Scrambling Up!

TM9475 New England Coastline #14 7×7 oil on paper

TM9476 New England Coastline #15 7×7 oil on paper

I’m often asked why I paint so many (partially) obstructed views. The answer might be simple. I love the anticipation! But behind that obvious response, there is a deeper reality. Anything achieved without effort is seldom deeply appreciated. So in truth, I paint the obstructed view because it must be earned. The climb, the effort, the anticipation, and then the reward of seeing so much big space and moving air is a complete experience. In the case of these coastline paintings, it is also about my fondness for the rugged geometry, whether solid or eroding. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I usually do these little guys in two steps. The first day I block in the major shapes with a knife loaded with oil paint mixed with Liquin Impasto medium. I also use a fine brush and dark paint to “draw” some of the fractures. When this base layer is dry (usually the next day) I use soft brushes and a knife to define the forms.

Climbing Up

TM94446 Climbing Up 7×7 oil on paper

I started a group of Chasm studies on tinted paper in March, just before the covid virus stopped everything. It’s time to go back and finish them! Climbing Up was painted on a soft tan prepared paper, with the hope that some of the warmth would show through the transparent oil paint colors. Enjoy.

From a Favorite Trail

TM9443 From a Favorite Trail 36×20 oil on panel

Some trails become a habit. Maybe it’s because they are close-by. I tend to think it’s because they always provide a boost to the spirit and something new to appreciate. I particularly enjoy learning and recording the changes that seasons bring, then incorporating these details into my paintings. Below, you’ll find a few photos showing the development of this piece. Enjoy.

TM9443 From a Favorite Trail – first layer of painting, paint applied with a roller

On the first day of painting, I strive to block in the major values and textures. I use a roller to apply thinned oil paint, then manipulate it with mineral spirits and paper towels. I want the feel and gesture of the forms to be established.

TM9443 From a Favorite Trail – second day of painting with more defined forms and colors. On the third day, I applied a number of thin glazes to modulate the color.

The second day started with blocking in the sky and defining the trees. Compositionally, I liked the stalwart tree almost dead center as a focus and contrast to all the diagonals of the granite ledge and uplifted tree boughs. On the third day, I worked on the pattern of light on the granite, and refined the detail in the stone.

TM9443 From a Favorite Trail – close-up of trees

On the last day, I decided to bring more light and air into the trees, and lightened the distant ridge so it would recede.

TM9443 From a Favorite Trail – detail

More light and saturated color were added to the overhanging foliage, and reds and violets were glazed onto the ledge in the shadows.

TM9443 From a Favorite Trail – close-up of eroding ledge near bottom of painting

I also glazed more warmth into the stone granite at the bottom of the painting. Finished!

TM9443 From a Favorite Trail 36×20 oil on panel

 

 

 

Inside Autumn

TM9358 Inside Autumn 30×60 oil on panel

Many of the locales I paint were once farmland. The woods are mostly young, and the margins, defined by old stone walls, are a maze of grape and bittersweet vines, raspberry canes, and wildflowers. It’s a tangle of luxuriant growth bursting with color in the fall. All of that informed Inside Autumn, my homage to the season. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9358 Inside Autumn – detail from left of center

TM9358 Inside Autumn – detail from right and below center showing layered use of scraping, spatter, glazes and viscosity rolls to suggest autumn colors and textures

TM9358 Inside Autumn – detail from lower left edge

TM9358 Inside Autumn – detail from left side

Technical painting notes: I used mostly soft rubber rollers to apply the paint, beginning with a mixture of burnt siennas, umbers, and violets for the first pass. While the paint was wet, I drew into it with scrapers to establish the major branches and vines, then spritzed areas with solvent, which was rerolled to lift and soften textures and color. Some brush work to define negative areas and leaves followed. When this layer was dry, I rerolled burnt sienna over much of the surface and purposely streaked it with solvents and oil, spritzed it with solvents, and rerolled the surface. More scraping defined the tangle, along with some glazing. Using various viscosities of paint, I was able to lay down color or pick it up, revealing underlayers. When dry, I refined the color and edges with brushwork.

Inside a Red Tree (during migration)

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) 42×48 oil on panel

I ask myself (and the tree) this question: What are we experiencing? Is it the wind tossing us around? The birds chirping wildly about the joys of spring and autumn? Are we lost in the sheer joy of color and air? If I say this painting comes partly from imagination and partly from observation, will the tree agree? I hope so. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) – detail from upper left

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) – detai from right of center with leaves dancing to the music

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) – detail from left of center showing layered paint application of rolled and brushed paint

TM9437 Inside a Red Tree (during migration) – detail from below center looking through leaves toward sky beyond

Technical painting notes: I’ve been relying more and more on my soft rubber rollers to both move the paint around and to “draw” into the paint (narrow roller from Takech). The mix of accident and intention, along with the layering of mechanical strokes and brush-made strokes adds a level of liveliness to the painting.

Oh Breezy Day

TM9431 Oh Breezy Day 34×40 oil on

Some  paintings seem to pop out of no where. Oh Breezy Day started as an interpretation of trees and boughs overhanging a vernal pool – lots of reflections amid the fresh colors of spring. It was quite realistic. When I revisited the site later in the week, it was a breezy day. Wind was dancing with the leaves and clouds, and the feeling had changed entirely. I liked the dynamic of all that movement, and completely reworked the painting to capture the feel of the second visit. The new painting reminds me of a series of studies I did a while back called conversations between clouds and leaves (you can see them by going to the drop-down menu above, look for small pondscapes, cloud-gazing). Art is a spiral that keeps glancing off the past. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9431 Oh Breezy Day – detail from upper right

TM9431 Oh Breezy Day – detail from upper left

TM9431 Oh Breezy Day – detail from left side

TM9431 Oh Breezy Day – detail from lower right

Technical painting notes: This painting started with a roll-up of thinned, dark, blue/green oil paint, which was manipulated with solvents, scrapers, roller, and finally spatter to create an interesting pattern of lights and darks. When the base layer was dry, glazes were added and details worked up with brush and roller. As the painting evolved, I used the roller to “glaze” semi-transparent color and blur edges to suggest movement. Final details were accentuated with a small brush and saturated color.

 

Down by the Creek

TM9430 Down by the Creek 36×40 oil on panel

There’s something about the overhanging branches and brilliant blue sky, all casually displayed in the slow current of the creek that charms the spirit. I love my creek. It’s close by the studio, so I dash out to visit it often. Maybe it isn’t green yet, but that just takes a little imagination and memory. It will come. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9430Down by the Creek – detail from upper right

TM9430 Down by the Creek – detail from upper edge showing use of roller, scraping, and brushwork

TM9430 Down by the Creek – detail from left of center with reflections and flotsam

TM9430 Down by the Creek – detail from lower edge with sky reflections and floating vegetation

TM9430 Down by the Creek – detail from upper left with reflections

Technical painting notes: I used a blue/black roll up of thinned oil paint to block in the major shapes, and used a scraper to draw into the wet paint and indicate some of the branches. I spattered thinned green oil paint in some areas to add subtle color. When this base layer was dry, I worked with brushes (mostly angled watercolor brushes) to start blocking color into the sky reflections, and foliage. Selectively, I used square tipped nylon brushes to refine details, and to paint color into the scraped linework of floating grasses. Some use of thinned oil paint rolled over nearly finished detail work softened areas, lending a touch of mystery to the feel of the  painting.

Wetland Spring – Early Light

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light 36×60 oil on panel

I’ve been in the studio looking at paintings on the wall drying, and stacked against the wall waiting for galleries to reopen to accept delivery of new work. It’s a conundrum. Do I continue working as if everything will resume? And how do you do that when surrounded by so much heartache? I don’t know the answer. I do know that when I looked at Wetland Spring – Early Light, I realized it might not be finished. It’s still about the season when spring and winter grasses are in a sort of equilibrium, jostling each other. Spring will eventually overcome the papery detritus of winter. but the reworked version introduced more grass, and a bit more green. Why? Maybe because living with the pandemic requires more hope (green) and more effort by many more people (the added grass). Strange. Landscapes always tell a story, including a metaphorical story.

Wetland Spring – Early Light also looks backwards to wonderful, historic Japanese screens of autumn grasses. Like life, the painting is a tapestry interweaving old and new, life and death, the world below and the world above. Details below. Nimaste.

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from upper left edge with reflected cloud and grasses

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from upper right

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from lower center edge with reflections and grasses

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from left edge with reflections and papery white winter grasses

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light – detail from left of center with bright cloud reflected in shallow water, old and new emerging grasses

Earlier version of painting.

TM9413 Wetland Spring – Early Light (earlier version) 36×60

Technical painting notes: Much of the work on this painting was done with soft rubber rollers. I used the width of the roller at times, but also rolled out paint using the edge of the roller. Selective brushwork manipulated the color and added variety to the strokes.

 

 

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