Looking Up, Looking Down

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down 36×60 oil on panel

Painting is an adventure. I started this painting almost two years ago – a somewhat abstract view through trees in early winter. I worked on it off and on all year, tinkering with the mood, the amount of snow. and, finally, the intensity of the wind. Eventually, the painting became a blizzard with white out conditions. I wasn’t sure a white whirling void was really my intent, so I put it away for a few weeks. When I returned to it, I knew the winter had to go. I couldn’t stand looking at the blizzard – so cold. I picked up a roller and started attacking the panel with yellows and grays, greens and blues. It certainly changed the mood! At some point, it struck me that I was painting a brilliant, partly cloudy sky, and at the same time the yellow shapes began to resemble blossoms. Oh dear, I thought. Where did that come from? I took out my collection of photos from the Victory Gardens and shots of my friend Christine’s garden and started to purposely paint the gestures of flowers and leaves. The painting is certainly about transitions and spring, and the joys of looking up and down. I think it also is about learning to trust intuition, letting go, and having loads of fun skiing along the edges of the roller shapes and dancing with the lines. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from lower right showing layered use of brush and roller strokes

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper right

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper center

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper left with clouds and blossoms


TM9421 Reflections 36×60 oil on panel

Reflections takes a broad look at the late spring woods on an afternoon when nearly everything is flaunting its new green. The lake is calm, the mood quiet, and full summer is just around the corner. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9421 Reflections – detail from right side with redbud tree

TM9421 Reflections – detail from lower left

TM9421 Reflections – detail from center

Technical painting notes: The painting started with a roll-up of dark umber and siennas, applied with a soft rubber roller and “disturbed” with solvents and playful re-rolling. This established the dark masses. While the paint was wet, I used a scraper to draw the trunks and branches. Further development with brush and some roller work brought the forms into focus and enlivened the color. I used an extra fine spatter technique to “glaze” color into much of the foliage.


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.

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…..

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