The summer studies continue with this small painting from Bass Rocks, so easy to recognize with that honey-colored glow. This one is on a rougher watercolor paper, which lends its coarse texture to the stone. I used a shellac primer so the texture wouldn’t be compromised by a heavy pigment coating.
There’s a time for drama and a time when quiet is most appreciated. Up on Bass Rocks seems to be a meditative, peaceful morning, with a view out to sea and a retreating fog bank. But in truth, if you love geology, the thrill of touching such an ancient mountain is fantastic. In some ways, the painting is about time – long, stretched out time. The ancient granite, bruised by glaciers and pummeled by the sea, is alive with crystals and abstracted by fractures. To paint it, one’s own sense of time has to slow down as well. The layers of paint and texture can’t be rushed; the tantalizing forms need to reveal themselves. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: The painting was built in layers. The first layer of paint, applied with a soft roller and crumpled (re-used) plastic film, was rough, streaky and transparent. I spattered mineral solvents on the paint and re-rolled the surface repeatedly to achieve grainy textures. I also spattered paint in places, for more depth. The opaque dots of paint contrast nicely with the open spots where the mineral spirits has left deficits of paint. When the first layer was dry, I layered transparent glazes, then painted into the wet glazes with soft brushes and more transparent color. Occasionally I applied paint with the roller, to get more interesting “accidents.” Additional layers of glaze and stippling refined the color and textures.
Wide expanses of sky and a disappearing ocean provide the subject for this large painting from Lubec, Maine. The surprise of seeing what lies beneath the water always rouses my curiosity. Rivulets and pools interspersed with ribbons of sand, slippery green algae, and peat banks form complex patterns across the nearly flat plane. A distant headland is barely visible in the encroaching fog. This is a quiet place. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller to lay down a streaky layer of dark reddish brown oil paint, swished a manipulated with mineral spirits to suggest some of the textures I wanted. Later, as I worked up the details from the scene, the painting started to get too fussy, so I took out the roller again and simply re-rolled over some of the wet paint to “disturb” it. Patterns of wet paint repeated themselves as they came off the roller, creating a more interesting effect. I also rolled a semi-transparent layer of the gray/beige to suggest the sand, then let the accidents of rolling determine where the darker wet sand would be. FInal touches were highlighting the ridges of sand with more opaque paint, adding the strips of water caught between the ridges, and introducing a warm light to some of the further sand patches. Multiple grey glazes of fog pushed the horizon into the deeper distance.
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.