Hiking to the Chasm 2 & 3

TM9425 Hiking to the Chasm #2 7×7 oil on paper

TM9426 Hiking to the Chasm #3 7×7 oil on paper

More studies from Purgatory Chasm – a perfect place to wrestle with the geometry of glacial chaos!More in the works…enjoy.


Hiking to the Chasm

TM9424 Hiking to the Chasm #1 7×7 oil on paper

Spring is quickly arriving, and it’s time to plane field trips with my students. we are hoping to spend some time at Purgatory Chasm in central Massachusetts – sketching and photographing, observing and soaking up the dramatic tectonic and glacial chaos of this piece of geography. It is a spectacular place to paint. And a challenge. While the trees haven’t leafed out quite yet, they will soon. I will be posting sneak peaks at the coming season, and views from various points on the way to the chasm. Enjoy!

Early Summer at the Quarry

TM9415 Early Summer at the Quarry #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM9416 Early Summer at the Quarry #2 7×7 oil on paper

Two interpretations of Early Summer at the Quarry, from different vantage points. Sometimes people ask me why I paint the same place again and again. My answer: it’s never the same! Changes in light, season, viewpoint, and my own mood mean I’ll always see something different and challenging. If I don’t see something new, then the problem is me, and I need to find out why. Painting the landscape (nearly) daily is a record of change and a diary. Enjoy these quarries…..

From a Winter Walk

TM9372 From a Winter Walk 36×40 oil on panel

The transformative power of snowfall – what had become the dark woods of late autumn is brilliantly lit by reflective snow crystals, and even the shadows glow! This view, from the trail around my favorite little pond, epitomizes why I so love to paint winter. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I start the winter paintings much as with any season, applying a dark roll-up of thinned oil paint, sometimes warm, sometimes cool in tone. In this case, I used a mixture of burnt sienna, raw sienna, and burnt umber, with a little pthalo green on the left side. I scraped into the wet paint, suggesting branches, and spattered and roughed up the paint on the right side, where the outcrop would be. When the base layer was dry, I began refining the forms, using soft brushes and thin paint to “draw” the trees. I also use a roller to apply white or tinted paint to suggest snow. The accidental way the roller landed on the ridges of dark underpainting almost painted the outcrop for me. Layers of rolling the shadows and white highlights was followed by more refinements with a brush on the rest of the image.

Quiet Morning at the Quarry

TM9345 Quiet Morning at the Quarry 36×36 oil on panel

Maybe it’s because I went to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams and saw work by an artist, Clifford Ross, who was as impressed as me by the heroic paintings of the Hudson River School painters. Along with the early Dutch landscapists, the Hudson River painters were my go-to artists to study and emulate as I learned to  paint. I think their veneration of nature struck a chord, while their fascination with detail felt natural to the etcher in me.

Quiet Morning at the Quarry is my response to what I saw at the museum, Sometimes, going back in time can also push one forward. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9345 Quiet Morning at the Quarry – detail from far wall of quarry

TM9345 Quiet Morning at the Quarry – close-up with water and reflections

TM9345 Quiet Morning at the Quarry – detail from right side


TM9341 Gloucester Quarry 7×7 oil on paper

TM9342 Stopping by the Pond 7×7 oil on paper

These two mirrored compositions with still water and reflections are a delight to paint. The “other” world, upside down and mysterious, needs to be convincing but not fussy. I used a palette knife plus a little brushwork to find the forms. The colors are less saturated – by September the greens start to look a bit tired, as if they really can’t wait to get the dressed up again in gold and yellow. Enjoy.

New England Coastline #12

TM9331 New England Coastline #12 7×7 oil on paper

The scarred fingers of ledge reaching into the water at Bass Rocks are such a gorgeous color – all ocher and red oxide, not like the grey granite found toward the middle of the state, or like the maroon, black, and deep mars violet cliffs you can find up north between Lubec, Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. So much color and geometry, so little time! Enjoy.