Rounding the corner on summer – tonight the forecast is for a chilly night in the 50’s – hurrah! This most recent Last Days of Summer painting depicts the pond with lingering morning shadows. I suspect the next will have more yellow! Enjoy.
Number eight in the Last Days of Summer Series, and you can certainly feel fall around the corner. The colors in some trees are taking a slightly golden cast, and the sienna-hued shrub in front says it clearly. I know it’s a cliché, but I live to enjoy the seasonal changes. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: Working on this little fellow, I found myself getting too tight, trying to include too much information. To keep the broader gestures strong, and subdue the detail, I used a palette knife to restore the impression and “smear” some of the detail. When I lose the “big picture” details are meaningless.
The view from a different part of the pond, and part of the Last Days of Summer mini-series. These quiet and contemplative ponds are scattered across New England. Many are natural to their environment, but some were encouraged by early farmers to provide water for dairy cows. Beautiful in summer, they are also valuable for ice skating in winter. The granite outcrops are also a much-loved characteristic of home. I am reminded of one of my favorite words – topophelia – meaning a deep love of place. It sums up my work and life. Enjoy.
Fourth day in my painted good-by to summer, and this time I’m at my favorite pond and conservation area in Wayland, Massachusetts. The dead trees on the left are a favorite place for the great blue heron to sit and meditate. When I walk the path around the pond, the sound of plop plop precedes me as frogs jump back into the water. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I use mostly 140 pound rag watercolor paper for my little oil paintings and studies. The paper is primed with acrylic gesso or clear shellac (front and back). Most of the paintings are done in two or three stages. The first day, I block in the major shapes and darkest values using a palette knife and Liquin Impasto medium. My goal is to get vibrant textures and strong contrasts. The second day, I start refining an image from the rather abstract base, using soft brushes, knife, and occasionally a soft rubber roller. Sometimes a third day is need to finish the painting. My goal in doing these small works is to keep my response to the subject fresh and let the accidents that happen when painting with a knife inform the direction the painting takes. I also want to capture the liveliness and tranquility of the place.
We’re beginning to see hints of autumn – cooler nights, longer shadows and a different feel to the greens (and yes, a little bit of ochre is entering the scene!). I love late summer and autumn, so I’m celebrating the season with a series of small oils from favorite places. Enjoy!
I think it was prophetic, naming this painting Anticipating Spring Again. When I started it in 2018, the title referred to a series of annual woodcuts I used to do, titled Anticipating Spring. It was my way of saluting the end of winter and looking forward to the gentle season of spring each year. Little did I know that this painting would itself become a series. I no longer have a picture of the first version. It was reworked a year later to become the second version. A year can make a huge difference in how one sees a painting, and I realized I could push the painting further. Recently, the second version came back from a gallery, and as I considered it anew, I realized that once again I would have to go back into the painting. I’ve learned so much since last year. Experience told me that I could increase the depth and extend both the the nuances and boldness of the color. Details from the newest version are below (along with the second version).
And the second version of this painting, sitting under the present version…
Many of the locales I paint were once farmland. The woods are mostly young, and the margins, defined by old stone walls, are a maze of grape and bittersweet vines, raspberry canes, and wildflowers. It’s a tangle of luxuriant growth bursting with color in the fall. All of that informed Inside Autumn, my homage to the season. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used mostly soft rubber rollers to apply the paint, beginning with a mixture of burnt siennas, umbers, and violets for the first pass. While the paint was wet, I drew into it with scrapers to establish the major branches and vines, then spritzed areas with solvent, which was rerolled to lift and soften textures and color. Some brush work to define negative areas and leaves followed. When this layer was dry, I rerolled burnt sienna over much of the surface and purposely streaked it with solvents and oil, spritzed it with solvents, and rerolled the surface. More scraping defined the tangle, along with some glazing. Using various viscosities of paint, I was able to lay down color or pick it up, revealing underlayers. When dry, I refined the color and edges with brushwork.
Late spring and early autumn share a multitude of yellows, and with that yellow comes a bold dose of sunshine and, dare I say, moments of bliss. Yellow is the color of uplift and joy. It is also a difficult color for the painter, who must find a way to mix a range of yellows without losing the clarity of the hue and its emotional impact. Ever hear of a dark yellow? Rarely, and it’s almost never happy. Hence, my Song in a Key of Yellow is about joy, the seasons, and the music of nature. Details below.
P.S. Do you ever find the bird you know is singing in a nearby tree? I rarely do, but I know he’s in there.