Climate change. The words are in the news all the time, like a background hum, or a mosquito whine you can’t avoid. When I visit the pond, evidence is everywhere, whether in an arctic blast or the 40 degree weather that follows a couple hours later. I see the trees downed by severe windstorms, the land flooded with late fall and early winter rains that usually aren’t. Despite the losses, I am still overwhelmed by the beauty nature shows me. With extreme temperature changes this winter, I have seen the pond freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw/freeze. So many forms of frozen ripple, crack, crumple. I think about how to portray the frozen lace in paint, how to sneak up on the glorious effects, how to make the process look effortless. Time and experimentation. Details below.
Technical painting notes: I started the painting with a roll-up of dark, thin oil paint establishing major values, then worked to define the clumps of grasses with a silicone scraper. When the underlayer was dry, I started to define the ripples and alternate this brushwork with glazes. A narrow roller was used build the thicket of marks that would become underwater vegetation. I used a wider rubber roller to glaze over and smudge the ripples, and to start laying in the larger bands of blue open water. Alternating brush and roller, I put details down then semi-buried them under rolled nearly transparent glazes to suggest the luminous ice forming around the grass clumps. Including a touch of olive green brought the colors into balance and serves as a reminder that what is frozen now will be green again.
Midsummer Garden is a homage to the wonderful garden our neighbor, Mrs. Kroll, tended. The garden ran along a massive stone wall that separated the Kroll’s house from their dairy barn. Unlike our flower gardens, which featured marigolds, snapdragons, phlox, zinnias, and cosmos, the Kroll garden was filled with huge, sumptuous (and to me exotic) flowers such as gladioli, massive dahlias, and sunflowers. All the neighborhood kids raided Mrs. Kroll’s compost heap regularly, looking for blossoms fresh enough to bring home to the moms. Mrs. Kroll never interfered with our foraging. I like to think she was smiling from her window. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used primarily soft rubber rollers to work up this painting, beginning with a dark layer that blocked in some of the primary shapes. Brushes were used selectively to refine a shape or line. At times, I used the edge of the roller to draw fine contour lines. My goal was to capture the essence of the subject while maintaining the freedom to interweave line and overlapping shapes expressively.
While terrible for the trees, an early snowfall is gorgeous to see and enjoy. The stark whites and blues intermixed with the last foliage broadens the palette. It’s like the best of winter and summer combined. Of course it also means many limbs will come crashing down, to be turned into strong diagonals in the next paintings. All part of why I love working with landscape. Enjoy!
Every day brings changes. This new view of a familiar winter creek after snow is more frozen than previously. I definitely felt the cold in my bones this time. But, as always, it was worth the discomfort. That being said, next time I’ll add another layer. Enjoy.
Some places haunt us – they enter our hearts or psyches and take up residence. This creek in the mountains is such a place for me. Maybe it’s the music of the flowing water surrounded by silence, or the arrangement of open space and woods, but it excites me every time. Winter may be the best, as with the sun coming out after a gray morning. Whatever the secret is, I choose to simply enjoy it.
These two studies were done on smooth, primed paper, which informed the quick, blocked in treatment using a palette knife. The strong sun gave me an opportunity to play with simplified shadows. I felt like Edward Hopper was sitting next to me, of course I was in his neighborhood!