Breeze Please

TM9018 Breeze Please 30×60 oil on panel

Breeze Please follows up on a series of studies I did of wind-tossed trees seen against blue skies filled with cumulous clouds. I enjoyed painting the small studies so much, I couldn’t resist trying a larger version. Going from 7×7 inches to 30×60 inches became possible when I started using rollers to apply the paint. Weaving brushwork and rolling gives me control and abandon, and keeps the marks exciting. Because I wanted the feeling of leaves dancing, I tried to keep a light touch with the roller, letting it “skip” and do its own dance across the surface. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from lower left
TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from right side
TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from upper right
TM9018 Breeze Please – detail from center with leaves and cumulous clouds behind them

Technical painting notes: The painting started in my usual way, rolling on a mixture of raw sienna and burnt sienna paint thinned with an alkyd medium. I did some scraping and spritzing to give textures and a bit of structure, then let the panel dry. When I resumed work, I started defining forms and branches with brushwork, but the feel of the piece was off. Only when I started using a roller to apply the paint did the energy pick up. From that point, I repeatedly defined with a brush then rolled with abandon, layering the two effects and aiming to maintain hard vs. soft edges. As I worked, the color became more saturated – the joy increased. Perhaps the next experiment will be taking the details from the painting and letting them “grow up.”

Breeze Please

TM8896 Breeze Please #1 7x7 oil on paper

TM8896 Breeze Please #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM8897 Breeze Please #2 7x7 oil on paper

TM8897 Breeze Please #2 7×7 oil on paper

There’s an old, small drainage canal that runs along one side of the building where my studio is located. Really narrow, very shallow. To glance at it, one might think so what?┬áBut if you really check it out daily, all sorts of wonderful things happen in it. I’ve seen frogs, turtles, and ducks. One day a great blue heron swooped in too quickly, perhaps not realizing it could get caught in all the overhanging branches and debris collected along the sides. The poor bird had to back out. But I’m fascinated by how the overhanging branches and bits of sky reflect into the water.

Breeze Please 1 & 2 explore one day’s observations from early last summer. I loved the strong blue sky and vivid leaves, but the challenge of painting chaotic, overarching branches kept eluding me. Until I took out my knife. The reductive simplification a knife provides imbued a sense of movement and abstracted the leaf forms. Finally, the painting felt like what I saw. The lush paint (achieved with a liberal dose of Liquin) has a tactile quality which makes the leaves feel closer. I’ve also been experimenting with letting the pencil drawing show through, or, conversely, drawing into the wet paint. The line vs. shape, so clearly present, adds interest and gives clues to how the painting was constructed.