Pondliness

TM9420 Pondliness 42×48 oil on panel

Shallow ponds are so mysterious, so slow to give up their secrets. Based on  shallow ponds, swamps, streams, and creeks, Pondliness is a slow, painterly penetration into reflections, occasional surface growth, and floating leaves. It is also about change, not knowing what will happen next, and trusting one’s intuition.

I started the painting last spring, and thought it would develop quickly, but the beavers were feeling particularly industrious and completely changed their civil engineering plans. Whole swaths of my wetland became new ponds. The place I was painting pretty much disappeared. The problem was that I liked the painting that was underway, but I liked the new “source” better. I’ve spent nearly a year bringing the two subjects together into one painting, and decided to call it Pondliness because it isn’t one moment in time in one place but the best of one place in all its changing iterations. Besides, pondliness rhymes with likeness and kindness two favorite words of mine. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9420 Pondliness – detail from left of center with reflected branches, achieved by drawing with a scraper

TM9420 Pondliness – detail from upper left with reflections and floating leaves

TM9420 Pondliness – detail from right side, showing use of layered roller strokes and soft blending

By the Beaver Dam

TM9417 By the Beaver Dam #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM9418 By the Beaver Dam #2 7×7 oil on paper

TM9419 By the Beaver Dam #3 7×7 oil on paper

Another small group of related studies, this time near one entrance to Hamlen Woods. The beaver engineers are very busy in this part of town, constantly working on new dams or renovations, and in the process creating catchments for slowing freshwater  drainage. Their work maintains good habitats for water fowl and other creatures, and filters the water. Of course their work also creates beautiful subjects and vistas for me (though perhaps a bit more muddy than I can reasonably enjoy).

The three studies work there way up from a small culvert toward the more inaccessible swamps. The brushwork loosens, one reason for doing multiple paintings. Each study gives me more confidence. I feel freer to interpret and play with the paint. Enjoy.

Wetland Woods – Early Summer

TM9414 Wetland Woods – Early Summer 42×54 oil on panel

Whenever I hike into the woods off Route 30 in Wayland, Massachusetts, I think of all the artists who have been inspired by places like these. They are my mentors and heroes. The early Dutch landscapists, the Barbizon School painters, the Hudson River painters – sometimes I feel as though I’m painting with George Inness on one shoulder and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot on the other. And who’s that sitting on my head? John Kensett (or sometimes Joan Mitchell)? I am lucky. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9414 Wetland Woods – Early Summer – detail from center right

TM9414 Wetland Woods – Early Summer – detail from center left wit reflections and floating leaves

TM9414 Wetland Woods – Early Summer – detail from lower left wit watery reflections and grasses

Wetland Spring – Early Light

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light 36×60 oil on panel

There’s a time in early spring when dried, wintered-over grasses mingle with the encroaching spring waters and new growth to create a delicate embroidery or tapestry. Wetland Spring – Early Light is an interpretation of the tapestry and the soft quality of spring air. It is also inspired by wonderful, historic Japanese screens of autumn grasses. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from upper left with reflections

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from right side with grasses and reflected blue sky

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from near center with reflections and grasses

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from lower left with meltwater encroaching on grasses

Wetland Woods – Early Spring

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring 36×60 oil on panel

With so little snow this winter, and temperatures that feel more like March, I can’t help feeling as though spring is around the corner. Wetland Woods – Early Spring is actually more about mud season, when the ground softens up, and the air feels softer too. There’s still plenty of that white/tan old growth around, but occasionally you can glimpse a blush of yellow green or reddish pink. That, plus the open blue waters, give one’s spirit an excuse to soar. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring – detail from upper left with last year’s dried weeds and grasses

TM9412 Wetland Woods – Early Spring – detail from center with meltwater, mud, and first blush of green

TM9412 Wetland Woods – Early Spring – detail from center top of painting with new growth amid the old

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring – Detail from lower left with emerging color

Technical painting notes: I started this painting with a roll-up of blackish green and umbers mixed with violet, manipulating the wet paint with paper towels and scrapers, and spritzing the surface with solvents then blotting and re-rolling to achieve textures and blurred edges. When dry, I glazed colors over the entire surface, then began to paint in the reflected sky and brush, sometimes using a brush, sometimes a soft rubber roller. A few days of alternating brush and roller work with mainly semi-transparent colors brought the impression into focus. I wanted the painting to have strong abstract underpinnings while still bringing forth the feel of early spring wetlands (with a few crisp details). Maybe I’m becoming an abstract impressionist?

The Green Voice of Summer

TM9411 The Green Voice of Summer 36×54 oil on panel

There’s a gentleness to late spring and early summer, and a quiet harmony of color, especially green. The Green Voice of Summer explores some of the close harmonies of the season with a somewhat abstract view of my favorite pond and its reflections. Unlike many of my autumn pondscapes, this painting whispers its mood and message. You have to stop to hear it, as did I last June when the idea began to form in my imagination. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9411 The Green Voice of Summer – detail from upper left with reflections

TM9411 The Green Voice of Summer – detail from lower right

TM9411 The Green Voice of Summer – detail from upper right

Dear November Redux

TM9295 Dear November 42×48 oil on panel

Dear November is, to use contemporary parlance, an upgrade. The painting has been drying on my studio wall, held in reserve for a show later this year. However, the more I looked at it, the more I thought it wasn’t quite finished. The subject is those fluttery, papery leaves that hang on nearly all winter. Their movement in winter’s winds is poetic, while their color slowly fades to off-white. I decided to emphasize the color and movement a bit more, to bring the painting in accord with what I most like  – the color and movement in an otherwise grayish month. I added more contrasting values and strokes, made the red/rust/coral/plum more saturated, and  deepened the blues. Feels better. The original version is below, along with details from the newly finished Dear November. Enjoy.

TM9295 Dear November – detail from upper left with tree reflections behind wind-tossed leaves and branches in foreground

TM9295 Dear November – detail from center left showing roller strokes and calligraphic brushwork to suggest blowing leaves

 

(first version) Dear November 42×48 oil on panel

Technical painting notes: The more I use my soft rubber rollers to apply layers of paint and to blend those layers with over-rolling, the more I love the soft-focus results. Interweaving the rolling with brushwork adds mystery to the subject, and offers a contrast of sharp and soft focus. I add some WInsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium to the paint that will be rolled, to increase transparency and to speed drying. One caution – it’s easy to get carried away with the roller and lose the subject!