Overcast Days at Bass Rocks

TM9468 Overcast Day at Bass Rocks #2 7×7 oil on paper

TM9469 Overcast Day at Bass Rocks #3 7×7 oil on paper

TM9470 Overcast Day at Bass Rocks #4 7×7 oil on paper

Back in Massachusetts, and expecting some tropical storm action today. The light was oddly yellowish and so humid this morning – just like the atmosphere in this little trio of paintings I finished yesterday. Coincidence? While I’d love to see what Bass Rocks will look like this afternoon, I think I’ll stay in the studio. Enjoy.


The Poem in the Wave


TM9015 The Poem in the Wave 40×50 oil on panel

The Poem in the Wave, a larger painting which I thought I had finished in 2017, began calling to me from the studio wall these last few weeks. I could see potential for more subtleties, perhaps a bit of semi-transparent roller work, and a chance to calm some areas in favor of accentuating the major wave action. It was worth trying. I think the newer version is more sophisticated. Details from the new painting below, along with the first version. Enjoy.

TM9015 THe Poem in the Wave – detail from right side

TM9015 THe Poem in the Wave – detail with cresting wave

And the first version….

TM9015 The Poem in the Wave 40×50 oil on panel

Bright Days

TM9206 Bright Days 36×60 oil on panel

The last days of summer deserve a walk on the beach, and Bright Days is my way of taking that walk. A little fog lifting in the distance, a fresh breeze, rollers making their way to shore – all serve to memorialize a perfect day. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9206 Brieght Days – detail from left side

TM9206 Bright Days – detail


Not Yet

TM9179 Not Yet 36×54 oil on panel

When I used to photograph waves, I looked for the significant moment when the wave was collapsing – the moment with all the drama. Now, I know that every moment is filled with drama and significance – the building concentration of energy can be more dynamic than the release, and the backwash, the remains of the prior wave returning to the sea, has a beauty all its own. Ultimately, every moment of every wave is unique, challenging, and worth the effort to understand and paint it. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9179 Not Yet – detail from lower left

TM9179 Not Yet – detail from advancing wave

TM9179 Not Yet – close-up showing use of differing viscosities of paint and use of oil to drag and spatter the underlayer

Technical painting notes: I started the painting with a roll-up (soft rubber roller) of darkly subdued blue greens. While the paint was wet, I used a mixture of oil and mineral spirits to streak and displace some of the thinly applied paint, especially up near the horizon line. I used the same mixture to spatter and blot “spray and bubbles.” To achieve the dragged effect, I used solvent to spatter the wet paint, then a soft brush to drag the dots of solvent, creating elongated drips and gaps. I also used a crumpled piece of plastic wrap to drag some of the solvent pools, again to suggest moving water.


TM9136 Incoming 30×30 oil on panel

I’ve painted a few waves, but I’m still learning. Incoming is all about the edge of the cresting wave, just before it begins to collapse. There’s transparency and a feeling of indecision – as though the wave weren’t sure when it should break, either. I want that in between moment. I think hesitation is universal. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9136 Incoming – detail from cresting wave

TM9136 Incoming – detail from upper right showing turning edge of wave with brushwork and spatter

Nothing Less, Nothing More

TM9048 Nothing Less, Nothing More 36×60 oil on panel

I think of the beginning –  air, water, land – and that sound. So primal and so eternal. It is the simplicity of these three elements interacting that intrigues me. Endless permutations and configurations, governed by precise rhythms. I can lose myself in the intricacies, my arm following the curve of a wave, my face feeling the imagined spray. Working with brush, roller, and paint I can share the moments.

Technical painting notes: The painting began with a roll-up of dark blue oil paint on the white, primed panel. I used solvents and linseed oil to manipulate the paint, spritzing the surface with droplets of the solvent then re-rolling the surface to create the impression of layered, active, water. A small amount of burnt umber was rolled into the foreground to suggest the beach. When this base layer was dry, I began refining the structure of the waves using traditional brush techniques and translucent pigments. Layers of transparent glaze were interwoven with the brushwork to create depth and luminosity. I experimented with spattering droplets of thinned white paint or solvent into the glaze to suggest spray along the wave’s crest, and used spattered and rolled white paint int he foreground to suggest the foam (air) in the restless water.


Two aspects – one painting from a foggy day, the other bringing back the blue. Enjoy.

Rough Seas

TM8936 Winter Waves #7 7x7 oil on paper

TM8936 Winter Waves #7 7×7 oil on paper

A last hurrah for winter? Maybe. The dramatic winter waves series is probably coming to an end for this year, at least in its smaller dimensions. The process of working quickly and spontaneously did teach me to trust my instincts more, and to let the paint be paint – thick, thin, runny, fat….love it! Four more paintings below. Enjoy.