Two Quarry Studies

TM9590 Summer Reaches the Old Quarry #2 7×7 oil on paper
TM9583 Summer Reaches the Old Quarry #1 7×7 oil on paper

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!

At the Old Quarry

TM9586 At the Old Quarry 7×7 oil on handmade paper

There are many approaches to painting – especially on the continuum of realistic to abstract. I love them all when well-executed, but I think the most interesting way of painting looks for the intersection between realism and abstraction. Where the subject is evident and the handling of paint and composition are all in service to bringing out the Zen-like essential nature of both. In a great painting, one can savor the meaning and the way the subject is presented. One also glimpses how the painting seems to be anchored by history and at the same time fresh as tomorrow. The painting transparently lets us feel the artist’s process and thinking with each stroke. Of course producing such work takes time, practice, and, I think, wisdom gained throughout one’s life. It’s one reason why I keep doing these small paintings – to try new ideas and see if they will work in the context of what I want to say.

At the Old Quarry is a case in point. It is oil on prepared handmade paper, with the texture of the paper determining how it could be painted – what was possible. The uneven surface was perfect for a broader treatment using knife, pencil, and a (silicone) pointed scraper. I knew I wanted to base it on one of the quarries I visit regularly, but the composition also nods toward Mark Rothko’s famous stacked rectangles and squares. The energetic textural “strokes” acknowledge other abstract painters – including Joan Mitchell and Wolf Kahn. Working on this 7×7″ painting gave me insights into how I can approach a large 36×80″ panel waiting for my attention.

Mr. Kroll’s Cow Pond

TM9581 Mr. Kroll’s Cow Pond 7×7 oil on paper

Wherever there are old dairy farms, there are cow ponds. This one, at the bottom of a gentle sloping field, is very near the house where I grew up. We used it for skating in winter, but the most fun was going fishing with Roger, my youngest uncle, in the summer. A clump of tree roots formed our “island”, and we wanted horned pout. It was a wonderful way to spend the day, only going home when we heard my mom ring the cowbell that meant food on the table. Enjoy.