Going to the ends of the earth – it’s a phrase we all have heard and dreamed about. But I like to think of that phrase in terms of time as well. If the earth can seem both tiny and vast, then time, with its epochs and geological eras can also be incredibly deep. I was thinking about this while working on the painting. This easily climbed granite outcrop was once part of a chain of nearly alpine-sized mountains. And the sand and gravel at its feet? Thousands of years of erosion and ice ages have humbled the mountain, building deep troughs of rubble. Remembering these processes as I pant is daunting. So much time, so many changes. It puts a different perspective on current events. Details below. Enjoy
Campobello Island is one of my favorite places. The geology is magnificent, with layers of iron rich granite, black basalt, and quartz intrusions that seem to stripe the ancient headlands. All this with views to Grand Manon and Maine. Homage to Tectonic Time is my “portrait” of a spot I like to visit early in the morning. It is wind-swept and primal. Except for erosion, it feels like it hasn’t changed since the end of the last ice age. So much history can be read in the rock. Ancient mountains. volcanic activity, changing sea levels, compression and rebound – a long story that you can touch and feel – it always sends shivers up my spine. Below are details. Enjoy.
Why is this titled An Early Morning Prayer? If prayer is about hope, acceptance, love, and readying oneself for the day, then this is my prayer rock, the place I would go every morning to be in prayerful mind. Because I can’t be there, and because I am in the studio, I focus my imagination on the feel of every grain of feldspar and quartz, hear the music of tides on the shingle, and breathe the cool, salty air. Prayer in absentia. It helps. Details below.
At the edge of any opening in the woods is a nursery – the place where young trees grab some light and grow as fast as they can. It always feel like a joyful place to me, with all the little tree limbs reaching up and shaking in the breeze. Sometimes, with the taller trees lined up behind the adolescent and baby trees, it feels like a formal chorus, with everyone lifting their spirits and swinging their limbs in song. Makes me want to sing too. And then paint. Conifer Chorus depicts such a place and moment. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: The painting began with a roll-up of dark oil paint, which was manipulated with rags, solvents, and the use of a silicone scraper to “draw” into the wet paint. Solvent and paint were spattered into the wet surface to add color and texture. When this base layer was dry, I used soft brushes to begin painting the “negative” sky areas. Additional brush work and glazes developed the trees. Not wanting the painting to feel too stiff, I used a soft rubber roller to apply highlights and broadly define needle-laden boughs. Additional layers of loose brushwork interspersed with rolling softened some edges while continuing to describe the gestures of the trees.
There’s a spot near the tip of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada that I have visited regularly for a decade. It’s a remnant of mountain, buried up to its neck in the stony debris that has eroded from it over the millennia. I make the trek because it feels like a sacred place. The sharply faceted and eroded ledge separates two long stretches of shingle. It is possible to stand at the tip and look out on (what could be) a prehistoric world. There are seldom signs of humanity. I know that native people once fished near here. My own family history, as handed down by my grandmother, leads me to believe those fishermen might be among my long-lost ancestors. In the solitude at this spot, I can almost imagine them. Detail below.
In the June 2016 issue of American Art Collector, my Shorelines exhibit is previewed (opening June 2 at Arden Gallery in Boston, MA).
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When I stumbled upon the unfinished painting Quarry Pond last week, and finally finished it, my interest in “whole” views of watery places was reignited. I’ve been visiting and photographing Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada (almost) annually. There are a number of northern bogs on the island. My favorite is near the southeastern tip of the island, and almost connects to the Atlantic but for a shingled bar of magnificent sorted stones (which I have painted, click on “Stones Portfolio” in the header). Bogs, being highly acidic, are quite different from ponds, though they offer opportunities to paint reflections and beautifully tannic water. Island Bog is my first foray into painting a bog. The time is early September, with its seasonal shift toward golden tones in the aquatic bog vegetation. The parade of fir trees (including some white, skeletal trees who ventured too far into the water) provides a backdrop (note the distinctive gray-green color of some of the lichen- drenched trees in the distance). I look forward to trying different approaches to painting this subject, perhaps aiming for less detail and more mystery? Enjoy.
Favorite places require and deserve repeat visits. So here we are again, on Campobello Island looking out toward a rapidly disappearing Quoddy Head in Maine. Closer, we see the meandering channels of low tide leading to our (somewhat!) precarious perch on this ancient headland. I admit to loving the complex textures of these rocks, and their subtle colors. James McNeil Whistler painted his mother as a Symphony in Gray. I have often watched the opaquely gray fog banks roll in…my version of a symphony in gray. Below is a close-up detail of the granite. Enjoy!