Open Secrets

TM9523 Open Secrets 42×48 oil on panel

A few record-setting warm days last week prompted me to bring out a painting that has been in the works for a while. Based on my delight and sense of wonder whenever I am in the presence of trees, this painting delves into the canopy (again) and ponders what we hear as well as see – the music of trees rustling is present, as is the sense of a community of leaves, each leaf bearing its own song, its own secrets. I imagine all these songs being carried off with the wind. So public. Such open secrets. There is so much we need to learn about trees, their inner life, there deep connection  to our own existence. The solace and joy they offer us. Details below. Enjoy

TM9523 Open Secrets – detail from center right

TM9523 Open Secrets – detail from top edge

TM9523 Open Secrets – detail from upper left and center

TM9523 Open Secrets – detail from lower left

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Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller to layer dark oil paint onto the surface of the panel, blocking in the pattern of darks and lights and trying to achieve some interesting textures and roller strokes. When dry, I worked up the pattern of leaves, branches, stems, and sky with soft brushes, exaggerating value contrasts with the intent of covering this stage with multiple rolls of fairly transparent oil color glazes.  Days of rolling and rerolling wet glazes produced the soft focus I was hoping for, and helped to suggest both movement and the mysterious life of the leaves. Highlighting a few areas with additional brushwork completed the painting.

First Signs

TM9522 First Signs 36×92 diptych oil on panels

Late winter can seem so devoid of color, but then one warm day brings a melt, and suddenly that crisp blue sky and reflecting water reveal the poetry of the season. The dried winter grasses along the pond edge seem to dance in the breeze, and a hint of green hovers in the water – where from? I hardly know, but it feels like magic. First Signs is about early spring and its energy. I invite you to join me on this extended walk along the pond path. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9522 First Signs – detail from upper right

TM9522 First Signs – detail from top with reflections and dried grasses

TM9522 First Signs – detail from center left

TM9522 First Signs – detail from right panel with reflections and swaying grasses

TM9522 First Signs – detail from lower edge with meltwater and sky

TM9522 First Signs – detail from left side with winter’s grasses overhanging the pond

Meltwater Season

TM9520 Meltwater Season 36×54 oil on panel

March is a strange month – full of bluster and cold, while at the same time offering glimpses of warmth. Colors are muted, but the varieties of ice can be amazing as ponds and creeks go through cycles of freezing and thawing. Meltwater Season is mostly about the scrims of ice vying with passages of open water, ice floes below the surface, frozen bubbles and air pockets, and the frame of snow and ice retreating along the shore of this glorious in-between season. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9520 Meltware Season – detail whre shore meets pond with ice and snow

TM9520 Meltwater Season – detail from left side with thin ice

TM9520 Meltwater Season – detail from lower center with last scrim of ice over liquid water

TM9520 Meltwater Season – detail from upper left

Technical painting notes: I developed the painting in layers, starting with rolls of deep browns and blueish grays. These were followed by some intricate brush work to describe underlying vegetation – which was followed up with more roller work with semi-transparent paint to “bury” the details under snow and ice. Below is the painting at mid-stage in development.

Everything that could be seen, and some that couldn’t (aka Winter Morning)

TM9521 Everything that could be seen, and some that couldn’t (aka Winter Morning) 30×60 oil on panel

My winter walks in the woods provide a complex feast of interlocking bare branches and tangled vines, all partially adorned with ice or snow. Painting the wild exuberance of all that rhythm can be intimidating. Studies and smaller paintings can help the process, but sometimes it’s a leap of faith that’s required. So dive I must, wielding multiple rollers and a few brushes loaded with paint. It is an invigorating way to paint. I think the result does describe the woods and season I love. Details below.

TM9521 Everything that could be seen, and some that couldn’t (aka Winter Morning) – detail from left side with burdened branches

TM9521 Everything that could be seen, and some that couldn’t (aka Winter Morning) – detail from lower right

TM9521 Everything that could be seen, and some that couldn’t (aka Winter Morning) – detail from lower center with snow and ice on bare branches

T9521 Everything that could be seen, and some that couldn’t (aka Winter Morning) detail from center, top to bottom

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Notes from a Winter Trail – The Sun Came Out

TM9519 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Sun Came Out 36×42 oil on panel

This painting is all about joy when sunlight peaks through the last snow flakes. Or maybe it’s about the pleasure of hiking into the woods in February. Or both, and more. I just know painting impressions of winter is fun.  Enjoy.

Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing

TM9518 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing 36×42 oil on panel

It’s repetitious to keep saying snowfalls are magical, but there aren’t enough good synonyms. This past week I took a hike around Purgatory Chasm State Park along the Charley Loop.  Snow was still clinging to the trees from a heavy snowfall, but now the sun was out and the sparkles of snow dust in the air were spectacular. Everything looked so clean and bright, I fairly danced my way into the woods (p.s. thank you to the person who compacted the snow trail!).  I expect there will be more paintings from this hike, and another storm is on the way. It’s a good winter so far. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9518 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing – detail from upper left and center

TM9518 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing – detail from lower left

TM9518 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing – detail from right of center

January on the Ridgeline

TM9517 January on the Ridgeline 36×44 oil on panel

I love driving Route 2 from Boston to Williamstown. Every direction has rolling hills that keep growing, until finally you are squirming your way through the mountains and following river gorges. The shadows are long in January, and there is time to savor the blues and violets of the season. Even the old fields feel sacred in this light. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9517 January on the Ridgeline – close-up from center right

TM9517 January on the Ridgeline – detail from shadows with snow-covered field edge

North Woods Creek

TM9516 North Woods Winter 36×48 oil on panel

With the right gear, nothing beats a winter day exploring the White Mountains in New Hampshire. This frozen creek, known locally as “the bowl” is just off interstate 93, and provides inspiration in any season (though I like winter). The drama of the off-kilter boulders and ice can be dangerous, but it offers a glimpse of the sublime, where intoxicating beauty and danger collide. It took many years of experience painting before I dared trying to paint the bowl, but now I want to go back and get more views. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9516 North Woods Creek – close-up showing rocky terrain

TM9516 North Woods Creek – detail from lower left with ice flow and boulders

TM9516 North Woods Creek – detail from upper center

TM9516 North Woods Creek – detail from left side