Bring the sunglasses! After a fresh snowfall, the sunlight on snow can be blindingly bright. This humble view from a roadside shows how even the simplest things gain some magic with snow. I love the varying color and ice patterns as streams and creeks freeze, and the dancing light snow blown across their surfaces. The jumble of growth along the edge of the woods, buried in snow, deserves another look. Maybe there’s a more abstract painting caught in that thicket? We’ll see. For now, details below. Enjoy.
Ode to a January Morning has been in development since 2018, and every winter I look at it and say “not done yet….” Today, I took it out again after a visiting the ice pond last week – the place that has always inspired the idea for this painting. Once more I knew it wasn’t finished, not enough depth, not enough mystery, and the brush work looked too planned. I took out my rollers and started mixing paint, thinking what have I got to lose? Some Bach, a fist full of rollers, and I rolled with near abandon. It felt so good, watching the details disappear under snow and shadow, just like in nature. I used a brush and my smallest roller to restate some branches under snow, and accented the patch of deep blue open water on the left. As the roller softened and blended colors it created more depth and a luminous quality to the surface that felt like encaustic. Details below, and at the bottom of this post you can see the earlier version of the painting. Enjoy!
and the earlier version….
Yes, another morning commute to the studio with an irresistible stop to study the new snowfall and patterns of light as the sun rises. It is an unremarkable view along any country road, but singularly beautiful with fresh snow and early light. I love the subtleties of the winter woods, full of violets and blues with touches of sienna. As I worked on this painting laying in the whites of fresh snow I was reminded of my early days carving negative “whites” into my woodcuts. Full circle, or almost. Details below. Enjoy.
The way sunlight comes up over the ridge and touches the tops of trees with a little warmth while leaving the lower reaches bathed in violet and blue is magical. That arbitrary line signifying vast geometries and unimaginable distance implies many ideas. My own smallness, the promise of warmth somewhere, the swiftness of change, and all this in the intimate setting of an ordinary roadside experience from my commute to the studio. It is worth stopping, choosing the path that might lead into more woods, more paintings. Details below. Enjoy.
Something about the way reflective surfaces yield their secrets when you look at them long enough. I’ve been studying an ice pond for quite a few years, learning about the way the thinnest layer of ice intrudes on the open water, the way ripples freeze, the soft tonal colors of ice, the bits of autumn caught in the ice, or poking through, the sky blues slipping between ice and snow – it’s all beautiful and challenging. I suspect I will be painting the ice pond again. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: The painting went through many iterations. At one point, it felt too soft and and “careful” so I started the painting again, right on top of the failed version. I mixed a blue/black color and roughly applied it with a soft rubber roller (again), looking to set the basic gestures and textures of the subject. The bold restart, superimposed on the softer, quieter version, brought drama and strength to the panel. I used mostly rollers to work up the new version, with some glazing and a little brushwork. The final version still feels like my ice pond, but caught over a sequence of days. It also pays homage to the intersection of nature observed and abstract painting.
We had an extra early snowstorm this past October. It was destructive, but also absolutely gorgeous. The lingering foliage, coated with snow, glowed, while the bright October light was blinding. I grabbed my cameras and made a dash for nearby woods before it could melt. It felt like walking in a cathedral of light and sparkle, absolutely heavenly, and inspiration for many months to come. Enjoy. Details below.
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber brayer to lay the first values and textures, then worked back and forth between brushwork and roller work to develop forms and layer color.
There are beautiful mornings and there are glorious mornings – I put this morning in the glorious column. The chasm is almost impossible to navigate in the dead of winter, but with a little imagination and a good zoom lens there is plenty to inspire. I walked the road and tromped into some of the paths. This view across a narrow part of the chasm plays with the opposites of light and shade in a high key. I am especially pleased with the lower right, where the use of semi-transparent paint and a roller worked well to describe deep snow and its luminous light. Details below. Enjoy.
Early September is deceptive. It feels like summer, but there are a few signs of the cool weather to come – a slightly redder tint, a golden tone, a less humid sky. This quiet view at mid-morning is typical. Nothing loud or showy, just a bit of bedrock, a scattering of juvenile pines, and drifting duckweed. Maybe the beaver will come by later. Details below. Enjoy.