The sensuality of peonies in full bloom is extraordinary,. Painting that sensuality, and trying to convey an invitation to draw closer and take a deep breath – well, that is the challenge. Portraying every detail might seem like the right approach. But, seeing too much might actually inhibit the sense of mystery and the feeling of scent in the air around the flowers. In Poem from the Garden I chose to work broadly and use restraint painting the details. The loosely rolled underpainting, full of unexpected shapes and textures, was almost interesting enough without additional work. A few simple glazes and limited opaque highlights extended the range of tones and provided just enough information to establish that this is, indeed, a poem from the garden. Details below. Enjoy.
Nature loves to fill a void, and the garden is no exception. Actually, I prefer a little chaos. Too much order is boring. So here’s too enthusiasm among the blossoms! details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: This painting began with a roll-up of thinned burnt sienna paint manipulated with rags and scrapers to block in the major shapes. After the first layer was dry, I used alkyd glazes to introduce color (thinned terra rosa and some olive greens). While the glaze was wet, I started defining flowers and leaves using brushes and a heavier bodied paint. I used a roller charged with transparent paint to blend and break up the patterns, introducing some chaos. Further linear definition with cool, bluish gray greens and yellows offered contrast to the broad, rolled shapes and blends. I emphasized the yellow shades as a way to bring sunshine and warmth into the painting.
The garden has been a theme in art for a thousand years. With such a long history, and works from so many cultures across time, the question is what more can I add? The short answer is I don’t know! But the only way to find the answer is to start painting/playing. The pleasure of the pursuit might be enough, but maybe someone else will find pleasure in these paintings too, and that would be even better. More than that, only time will tell….details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I started by rolling a thinned, payne’s grey oil paint on the panel with a soft roller, using the roller marks to block out the lights and darks. Selective wiping clarified some shapes. I let this layer dry, then used alkyd glazes to bring in color masses. From this point, it was a game between painting the “correct” details and taking advantage of the scattered and arbitrary roller strokes and accidents to build an interesting image.
What to do with the scraps of wood panels leftover from the large paintings? Fool around with some fun garden paintings. These smaller paintings are all about a change of palette and lots of little experiments, like taking a break after the complicated work. They also tap into the part of me that loves working in a garden. Details below. Enjoy.
Another road trip delivering artwork, and I am always amazed at how lovely the passing landscape is. So many new leaves! And the May flies hatched this week. I’m hoping to start more paintings based on these little trips around New England. It’s love renewed, getting out into the stony geography and mountains. Enjoy. Detail below.
Poem in the Woods is from an afternoon ramble through woodsy swampland. Yes, the ground is spongy, and there are lots of switchbacks when the way is blocked by water that’s too deep, but the the rewards of experiencing the reflected world are worth the slight inconveniences. I love the various dimensions, sky reflections, tree reflections, the leaves floating on the surface of this shallow water….it feels a bit unearthly and yet at the same time so deeply of the earth. Enjoy. Details below.