Oh Breezy Day started as an interpretation of trees and boughs overhanging a vernal pool – lots of reflections amid the fresh colors of spring. It was quite realistic. When I revisited the site later in the week, it was a breezy day. Wind was dancing with the leaves and clouds, and the feeling had changed entirely. I liked the dynamic of all that movement, and completely reworked the painting over the ensuing years to capture the feel of the second visit. The new painting reminds me of a series of studies I did a while back called conversations between clouds and leaves (you can see them by going to the drop-down menu above, look for small pondscapes, cloud-gazing). Art is a spiral that keeps glancing off the past. Details below. Enjoy.
Tag Archives: contemporary painting
Wetland Woods – Spring
After the silence and freeze of winter, spring can seem like an explosion of sound and color. Every green imaginable is reflected in my favorite swamps and ponds. The peepers are singing, the birds are flirting, and I want to put the feel of all this exploding life into a painting. It is all about joy and life! Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a thin black oil paint (reduced with stand oil and mineral spirits) to roll a few broad gestures on the white, primed panel, then used an ebony pencil to draw more details. When this base was dry, I used Liquin glazes over the whole surface, then began blocking in the sky reflections to set the composition and values. From there, it was a process of layering glazes with more pencil drawing, some detailed brush work, and lots of “painting” with my soft rubber rollers. Building the surface and colors with repeated layering of semi-transparent paints allows the painting to almost glow. It’s an old watercolor trick translated into oils with soft brushes and the roller.
The free-form marks suggestive of branches and trees either reflected or bending over the water sets up a syncopated rhythm that I used to suggest the energy of spring.
Wetland Woods – June Morning
My ritual stopover at the Hamlen Woods this morning revealed just how much rain we had yesterday. The pond and swamps are looking so lush and the woods so green. A robin accompanied me and had much to say. I do wish I spoke the robin language. Details below. Enjoy.
Notes from the Garden – Glory Morning
Paintings develop from an idea. It might be an image from photographs, a memory, a color and mood, something seen on a walk. In the case of this morning glory painting, it’s from memory and photographs I took each morning walking to the Victory Gardens in the Fens. The translucent blues were so fragile and transient. If I walked later in the afternoon, the flowers were closed. They were a special delight.
For the painting, it was important to capture the delicacy of the flower and the persistence of the vines, that twining, searching line sent out into the world. The more I worked, the more important the lines (vines) became, offering an opportunity to add color and a defined hard edge, while the soft shapes left by the re-rolled marks of the roller provided a sense of movement. Details below. Enjoy.
Notes from the Garden – Spiderwort and Friends
My Memere had a beautiful spiderwort in her side yard, and I was always fascinated by the blue-shading-to-violet color of the flowers. When I saw a similar spiderwort at the Victory Gardens last summer, I knew I had to paint it, surrounded by the various other plants that made up its neighborhood. Presenting my homage to the humble spiderwort, with all its old-fashioned delights. Enjoy.
Ode to a Rhododendron
I love a big showy rhododendron, but when I started this painting I thought it would be of peonies. I had loosely blocked in the blousy forms and was waiting for them to dry. As it happened, I had printed the photo of peonies on a sheet that also had a photo of the rhododendron. When I looked at the two photos, the gestural base layer I had blocked in looked more like the rhododendrons. Was it an accident? Or maybe my unconscious? From that point, I changed my palette and went with the second option. The crisscrossing leaves offer a contrast with the fluffy flowers. I have to find more rhoddies this year! Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I started with a loose pencil drawing on the white panel, then mixed a blue-black oil paint and started blocking in the darks with three and a four-inch soft rubber rollers. When I lost the forms, I went back to drawing with ebony pencil. THe back and forth of rolling and drawing produced interesting textures and lines. I let the panel dry, then built the image by refining with brush work, rolling, and drawing in layers. The roller keeps things loose and roller “accidents” yield interesting shapes.
Notes from the Garden – Peonies
Not all days are sunshine. I love the overcast days with subtle grays and quiet moods. Changing the palette for my peonies to cool tones instead of the warm greens and yellows I’ve been using lately provided the mood I wanted. Details below. Enjoy!
Technical painting notes: This exploration of peonies went through a few changes. I started with an indigo roll-up of thinned paint, drawing into the paint with pencil and a silicone scraper to suggest the placement of leaves and flowers. Later, working with brush and roller I developed more details – but it looked too careful. I always think of gardens as places full of movement. Peonies, with their slender stems, are always shifting with the airs. I loaded up my roller and started loosening the marks, letting the roller pick up paint and lay it down again. This helped. I also reworked the gestures by drawing thin lines of blue or green paint near the forms, so the lines could offer contrast to the shapes. At this point, the painting was coming together, but still felt too dark. Pushing through, I loaded the roller with a light bluish gray and tried blocking in the negative spaces (over the dark blackish indigo). Adjusting the light values in the flowers was the last step.
Notes from the Garden – Breezy Days
The garden is a place for trying things: new plants, creative techniques, new combinations. Painting the garden is the same. The plethora of forms, colors, shapes and constant change demand that the artist be open to trying new techniques and constantly search for honest ways to depict what is seen. I like to think of my garden series as searches for what’s “out there.” Exploring with pencil, playing with rollers, trying to find the right color and form – it can be very abstract and real at the same time. Just what I love. Enjoy!