Paintings develop from an idea. It might be an image from photographs, a memory, a color and mood, something seen on a walk. In the case of this morning glory painting, it’s from memory and photographs I took each morning walking to the Victory Gardens in the Fens. The translucent blues were so fragile and transient. If I walked later in the afternoon, the flowers were closed. They were a special delight.
For the painting, it was important to capture the delicacy of the flower and the persistence of the vines, that twining, searching line sent out into the world. The more I worked, the more important the lines (vines) became, offering an opportunity to add color and a defined hard edge, while the soft shapes left by the re-rolled marks of the roller provided a sense of movement. Details below. Enjoy.
My Memere had a beautiful spiderwort in her side yard, and I was always fascinated by the blue-shading-to-violet color of the flowers. When I saw a similar spiderwort at the Victory Gardens last summer, I knew I had to paint it, surrounded by the various other plants that made up its neighborhood. Presenting my homage to the humble spiderwort, with all its old-fashioned delights. Enjoy.
I love a big showy rhododendron, but when I started this painting I thought it would be of peonies. I had loosely blocked in the blousy forms and was waiting for them to dry. As it happened, I had printed the photo of peonies on a sheet that also had a photo of the rhododendron. When I looked at the two photos, the gestural base layer I had blocked in looked more like the rhododendrons. Was it an accident? Or maybe my unconscious? From that point, I changed my palette and went with the second option. The crisscrossing leaves offer a contrast with the fluffy flowers. I have to find more rhoddies this year! Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I started with a loose pencil drawing on the white panel, then mixed a blue-black oil paint and started blocking in the darks with three and a four-inch soft rubber rollers. When I lost the forms, I went back to drawing with ebony pencil. THe back and forth of rolling and drawing produced interesting textures and lines. I let the panel dry, then built the image by refining with brush work, rolling, and drawing in layers. The roller keeps things loose and roller “accidents” yield interesting shapes.
Not all days are sunshine. I love the overcast days with subtle grays and quiet moods. Changing the palette for my peonies to cool tones instead of the warm greens and yellows I’ve been using lately provided the mood I wanted. Details below. Enjoy!
Technical painting notes: This exploration of peonies went through a few changes. I started with an indigo roll-up of thinned paint, drawing into the paint with pencil and a silicone scraper to suggest the placement of leaves and flowers. Later, working with brush and roller I developed more details – but it looked too careful. I always think of gardens as places full of movement. Peonies, with their slender stems, are always shifting with the airs. I loaded up my roller and started loosening the marks, letting the roller pick up paint and lay it down again. This helped. I also reworked the gestures by drawing thin lines of blue or green paintnear the forms, so the lines could offer contrast to the shapes. At this point, the painting was coming together, but still felt too dark. Pushing through, I loaded the roller with a light bluish gray and tried blocking in the negative spaces (over the dark blackish indigo). Adjusting the light values in the flowers was the last step.
With their cheerful morning faces, Morning Glories always seem like harbingers for a great day. I love the chaotic way they climb and twist. They seem to epitomize nature’s energy. They certainly make me feel better. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I started the painting by blocking in major masses with small rollers loaded with a blackish green oil paint, drawing into the wet paint to suggest a few details of the flowers and leaves. When this base was dry, I glazed the darker areas with an indigo glaze then started refining the image with a roller loaded with various greens and gray tones. I used a broad angle brush to suggest the flowers, painting the form then rolling over it to smudge their faces. More brush work and glazes, followed by roller work, built up the image and details without getting too fussy. I went in with the pencil lines toward the end for definition and because Iove the contrast of the fine graphite lines against the broader roller marks.
One philosophy says less is more, and I often feel it is a good approach for painting winter. Another philosophy, playfully expressed as less is a bore, is more baroque and positively enjoys excess and exuberance. Spring is the place for that energy, and don’t leave anything out! My new painting is full of the explosion of life that happens at the pond in spring. A praise poem to life and renewal. Details below. Enjoy!
This local wetland has been on my mind for a good 15 years. This year it happened. Enough painting experience, a more knowledgeable eye, and the motto if not now, when? Now, I can’t wait to do more interpretations of this rich ecosystem. Details below. Enjoy!
Technical painting notes: I started with a 4″ soft rubber roller, drawing gestures of trees and some values on the white panel. When that was dry, I glazed, then began the process of defining the major values and shapes using soft brushes and oil paint with an alkyd medium. As the work progressed, I switched back to the rollers for glazes and to soften or smudge some areas. At this point I wanted to liven things and reintroduce crisp marks, so I worked with an ebony pencil drawing into the wet paint. A few days of back and forth – brush, pencil, roller, scraping – and it was finished. Looking at the finished painting, I can see where this could lead in several directions. More views throughout the seasons, but also zooming in on different aspects and letting the paintings become more abstract. What fun!
Early Signs of Spring is really about that in-between time when green shoots rising from the shallows (and some crimson branches showing signs of life) are still surrounded by the rough and scratchy vestiges of winter. When I see those little green shoots I want to sing, and thank them for returning. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: This painting evolved over time, starting as a view of the pond in this snowless winter but evolving into late winter and early spring. Something about too much gray, perhaps? I just had to add color, and after layers of rolling and drawing, the heavy impasto textures seemed to evoke the heaviness of mud and sticks, reminding me of the energy needed for green sprouts to emerge and claim their space.