Ode to the Springly Pond

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond 30×54 oil on panel

Paintings are my way of experiencing the world around me. This close view of the surface of my favorite pond is an example. I love the pollen that collects on the surface in May – the way it both obscures the reflections and reinforces the flat plane of the water’s surface. It is also the season when duckweed makes its appearance, forming an abstract pattern on the surface that reminds me of a tapestry. Interpreting all that with paint is a challenge, but more than that it’s about the joy of finding ways to move paint provocatively around on the panel. I never know how the subject will eventually emerge, but that mystery is part of the process, and keeps me wanting to paint. details below. Enjoy.

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from upper center with sky and foliage reflections
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from lower right of center with duckweed and a slight riffling of the water’s surface
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from upper right showing layered spatter and use of roller for reflections
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from left side with reflections and floating duckweed

Technical painting notes: When I first blocked in the basic composition for this painting, I had an idea, based on photographs from walks around the pond. Below is the painting as it looked the first day.

First day working on the painting, blocking in textures and major gestures with thinned paint, a roller, and scrapers

After a few days, the subject was heading in a different direction, and I liked the broadly abstract strokes and energy. I didn’t think it quite worked, however, and I couldn’t figure out a way to resolve it.

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond after a few days working on it, before radically rethinking my approach

I decided to do something radical, taking indigo paint and a roller to cover parts of the image, then spattered oil and solvent and rolled it again, scraping away some paint and adding spatter. It certainly “disturbed” the original idea and gave me a new way to think about the subject! I compared the totally abstract gestures on the panel to my hundreds of photos and decided to go with a quieter impression of the pond based on views and memories of May, with a larger sense of space and depth. The rest of the week was spent nudging the radical abstraction toward that end.