September Days

TM9493 September Days 36×72 oil on panel

September Days is a gentle anticipation of the coming season with its bright colors and quiet tones, all reflected in the pond I so love to paint. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9493 September Days – detail from left side with reflections and floating leaves

TM9493 September Days – detail from right side

Technical painting notes: At 36×72″, this painting posed some challenges. Just seeing what I was doing during the initial stage was difficult. I usually like to start on a table, rolling the paint onto the panel and manipulating the image with (very) wet solvents and oil. However, getting far enough away to see the wet painting was nearly impossible. Next time I might try working on the floor.

Last Days of Summer #8

TM9489 Last Days of Summer #8 7×7 oil on paper

Number eight in the Last Days of Summer Series, and you can certainly feel fall around the corner. The colors in some trees are taking a slightly golden cast, and the sienna-hued shrub in front says it clearly. I know it’s a clich√©, but I live to enjoy the seasonal changes. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: Working on this little fellow, I found myself getting too tight, trying to include too much information. To keep the broader gestures strong, and subdue the detail, I used a palette knife to restore the impression and “smear” some of the detail. When I lose the “big picture” details are meaningless.

Last Days of Summer #4

TM9485 Last Days of Summer #4 7×7 oil on paper

Fourth day in my painted good-by to summer, and this time I’m at my favorite pond and conservation area in Wayland, Massachusetts. The dead trees on the left are a favorite place for the great blue heron to sit and meditate. When I walk the path around the pond, the sound of plop plop precedes me as frogs jump back into the water. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: I use mostly 140 pound rag watercolor paper for my little oil paintings and studies. The paper is primed with acrylic gesso or clear shellac (front and back). Most of the paintings are done in two or three stages. The first day, I block in the major shapes and darkest values using a palette knife and Liquin Impasto medium. My goal is to get vibrant textures and strong contrasts. The second day, I start refining an image from the rather abstract base, using soft brushes, knife, and occasionally a soft rubber roller. Sometimes a third day is need to finish the painting. My goal in doing these small works is to keep my response to the subject fresh and let the accidents that happen when painting with a knife inform the direction the painting takes. I also want to capture the liveliness and tranquility of the place.

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.