Watching the Waves Come In is a long-term series that is always in development. Every time I learn something new I see what effect it will have on my little wave paintings. Or sometimes these small paintings inform my larger work. Either way, they are a delight to paint. I used to use a brush when working on them, but now it is mostly the palette knife, with more attention paid to the viscosity of the paint and the choice of paper – smooth or textured watercolor paper (primed). I look for ways to let the viscosity emulate the action of the water – more like sneaking up on the subject rather than trying to copy a moment or view. This approach, at least for me, yields more of the feel of my watery subject. It also allows for random accidents to influence the painting’s development, and life is certainly about the accidents. Enjoy.
Icing Up- November Morning at the Pond is part of my continuing series of winter investigations. Unlike the woodland views in winter, this painting looks at the earliest signs of winter as it creeps up on the pond. First there’s the sight of hoarfrost or light dustings of snow on the branches along the shore, or reflected in the open water. Most fascinating to me is the way ice forms on the water, giving it an almost gel-like appearance in some places while remaining open (with sharp reflections) in others. Eventually, a thin skim of actual ice starts to take over. The details are real, but the effect can be quite abstract and magical. I sometimes think this is my favorite time of year – still full of colors and activity, but little by little finding a way to subdue itself. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller extensively in this painting, rolling on thin skims of translucent oil paint to subdue color and soften details. Some of the tangled growth was delineated by scraping away paint, some by using a brush to paint in the strokes, and other “lines” were rolled with a narrow Takech rubber roller. The painting was developed in stages, with time for each layer to dry thoroughly before proceeding to next layer.
It seems odd to be singing the praises of November in April, but with a show scheduled for fall of 2020 at the Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary, I’m excited to be embracing the glorious fall months. The show will be devoted to the woods and trees, including paintings inspired by the visitor center’s glass, two-story observation space which looks out onto classic New England woodlands. I fell in love wit the view through the trees at bird level. Hello sparrow! More to come…..enjoy.
Technical painting notes: The new paintings make more use of the roller than earlier work. The roller allows one to quickly blend and soften edges, The contrast of painted and rolled lines adds variety.
Working in the studio is not a linear activity, with clear starts and finishes. Watching the Wind is an example. Last year I started the painting after watching trees outside my window during a blustery bright day. The abstract sense of movement and rhythm seemed like a good challenge for a painting, Last week, when a gallery asked to show the painting, I realized it wasn’t quite finished. The mood of gaiety was what I wanted, but the color needed more complexity. I learn with every painting, and the last year had wrought changes in me that needed to go into the painting. So it went back on the easel. The painting above is the finished version. Below, are details from the new version, and at the bottom you’ll see the version I thought was finished last year…….live, paint, and learn…isn’t life wonderful…
Adding more cool neutral grays and layering more of the calligraphic lines descriptive of leaves in motion added depth to the painting. The painting, as it was completed last year, is below.
I’ve been revisiting my old monoprint techniques, starting with a dark value and working my way into the light with wiping, lifting, and finally rolls of translucent paint. Pulling an image from darkness can feel like pulling a memory from the darkest recesses of the mind. Chance and the veracity of fiction vs. fact. Do I really remember this? Or am I inventing the memory I would like to recall? In any event, the resulting paintings can seem more otherworldly. Either way, I think I’ll try this again. Details below. Enjoy.
My grandmother had a gorgeous bank of peonies curving along the driveway. Every spring, I spent hours sniffing them, and hoping they would bloom at exactly the right time to bring one to school for my teacher. This seldom happened, Peonies bloom when they are ready, not for us, and their magnificent blossoms don’t last long, especially if stormy weather is in the forecast. Last summer, I spotted my neighbor Peter’s peonies in the Victory Gardens. They were blown over by the previous night’s storm, but still beautiful – perhaps more so because the storm emphasized their fragility. I knew I would eventually paint them. Here they are, in all their glory. Details below.
Technical painting notes: I used mostly monoprint techniques and soft rubber rollers to create this painting. The base layer was a mix of dark greens and black, rolled onto the panel then manipulated with solvent and rags. I “drew” the image with silicone scrapers while the paint was wet. When the initial layer was dry, I rolled on transparent glazes and painted into the wet glazes to add denser color to the highlights. I used 1-3″ rollers to block in the leaves and flowers, refining some of the strokes with traditional, soft watercolor brushes. A 1/4″ Takech rubber roller was used for finer details. The layering of roller and brush work in wet paint has the advantage of fostering unusual color blends and a variety of soft and crisp edges.
Maybe it’s still winter outside, but my thoughts are turning toward spring and summer – especially working on garden-themed subjects for my paintings. Hydrangea Morning, with its light, sunny palette reminds me of morning walks with my dog along the streets of Boston, and especially through the Victory Gardens. We stop and sniff, saying hello to our favorite specimens. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used my soft rubber rollers extensively on this painting. For the first layer, I rolled a mixture of dark greens mixed with black and brown, then proceeded to wipe away the highlights. I spattered solvent on the panel, then re-rolled areas to lift and distribute paint. Scrapers were used to draw the image, especially for stems and leaves. When the first layer was dry, I rolled on transparent color to block in the leaves and blossoms, letting the roller skip and jump across the panel. Some brushwork helped to define the patterns, which were then re-rolled to suggest motion. For the flowers, I purposely picked up dots of tinted white paint on the roller and rolled out the paint, letting chance intervene.