Scrambling Up!

TM9475 New England Coastline #14 7×7 oil on paper

TM9476 New England Coastline #15 7×7 oil on paper

I’m often asked why I paint so many (partially) obstructed views. The answer might be simple. I love the anticipation! But behind that obvious response, there is a deeper reality. Anything achieved without effort is seldom deeply appreciated. So in truth, I paint the obstructed view because it must be earned. The climb, the effort, the anticipation, and then the reward of seeing so much big space and moving air is a complete experience. In the case of these coastline paintings, it is also about my fondness for the rugged geometry, whether solid or eroding. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I usually do these little guys in two steps. The first day I block in the major shapes with a knife loaded with oil paint mixed with Liquin Impasto medium. I also use a fine brush and dark paint to “draw” some of the fractures. When this base layer is dry (usually the next day) I use soft brushes and a knife to define the forms.

Two From Quoddy Head

TM9471 From Quoddy #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM9472 From Quoddy #2 7×7 oil on paper

Watching the subtle changes as a storm front comes in, and painting those changes, is a fun challenge. In the first painting, there is still a vestige of blue in the water, and a sense of overcast light. In the second painting, there is more wave action in the distance, the sky has darkened, and the mood is more ominous. Both paintings are from positions near the start of the Quoddy Head trail, where an old massif is crumbling away. It’s a very black and white place even when the sun comes out, but I love it best when the sun is in hiding. Enjoy.

Out on the Shingle

TM9465 Out on the Shingle #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM9466 Out on the Shingle #2 7×7 oil on paper

TM9467 Out on the Shingle #3 7×7 oil on paper

The shingle – antithesis of going to the beach. This is where the stony continent crumbles toward the sea. Battered and worn, it is a world of seaweed and slime interrupted by tidal pools. A good pair of hiking sneakers and a pole can help one navigate some parts. The rewards might include sea cucumbers, all manner of smells, and an exquisite sense of the richness of life. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: All three paintings were on heavy rag paper coated with shellac front and rear. The first two paintings were on smooth paper, the third on rough paper. I used a palette knife to apply dark, rough values of oil paint mixed with Liquin Impasto medium. When dry, I went back into the images using brush and palette knife to refine the forms while trying to keep the rugged feel of the underlayer.

Low Tide Morning

TM9459 Low Tide Morning 20×30 oil on panel

A low backrest of granite from which to enjoy the cool morning – I can barely see Quoddy Head enveloped in the early fog off in the distance. Out here, it seems like nothing has changed. Details below.

TM9459 Low Tide Morning – detail from left side

TM9459Low Tide Morning – detail with shingle, shards, and seaweed

 

Morning on Quoddy Head #1

TM9460 Morning on Quoddy Head #1 7×7 oil on paper

Another part of the rugged coastline at Quoddy Head is this jumble of darkly volcanic rock, as seen on an overcast morning. I haven’t hiked this far very often, but oh what an incredible place! The surf pounds at the eroding cliffs and the thunderous vibrations can be felt in one’s legs. It is both primal and timeless. Enjoy!

Looking Southeast

TM9463 Looking Southeast 7×7 oil on paper

Looking southeast along the Maine coast always seems to bring to view another headland or scrap of rocky coast. I’ve been thinking about this recently as I work on a series of small studies and paintings from that beloved coast. I keep asking myself why do I so love being between a rock and a hard place? It’s a hard question to answer. Maybe it’s the gestalt of our times, and I am just one among many in this spot. Then I think well, better enjoy some aspect of this! Painting and remembering these “hard places” is a source of joy for me, so I suspect I’ll keep painting them, I hope you enjoy them too..

Morning Reaches the Island

TM9449 Morning Reaches the Island 24×36 oil on panel

A sunrise hike to the end of the point with a thermos and a biscuit. I can’t think of a better way to start the day. This view – looking out to Grand Manon from Lubec, Maine is absolutely one of my favorites. The deeply weathered outcrops feel extraordinarily ancient. I almost want to paint a pterodactyl in the sky. Enjoy. Detail below.

TM9449 Morning Reaches the Island – detail showing rolled, wiped, spattered, pressed, and brushed textures for granite

 

Following Low Tide

TM9315 Following Low Tide 36×54 oil on panel

Wide expanses of sky and a disappearing ocean provide the subject for this large painting from Lubec, Maine. The surprise of seeing what lies beneath the water always rouses my curiosity. Rivulets and pools interspersed with ribbons of sand, slippery green algae, and peat banks form complex patterns across the nearly flat plane. A distant headland is barely visible in the encroaching fog. This is a quiet place. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller to lay down a streaky layer of dark reddish brown oil paint, swished a manipulated with mineral spirits to suggest some of the textures I wanted. Later, as I worked up the details from the scene, the painting started to get too fussy, so I took out the roller again and simply re-rolled over some of the wet paint to “disturb” it. Patterns of wet paint repeated themselves as they came off the roller, creating a more interesting effect. I also rolled a semi-transparent layer of the gray/beige to suggest the sand, then let the accidents of rolling determine where the darker wet sand would be. FInal touches were highlighting the ridges of sand with more opaque paint, adding the strips of water caught between the ridges, and introducing a warm light to some of the further sand patches. Multiple grey glazes of fog pushed the horizon into the deeper distance.