Joyful Spring

TM9423 Joyful Spring 42×48 oiil on panel

Spring is the anticipation of green, of sunlight, and of the wonderful sweet smell of moisture in the air. Joyful Spring combines those attributes with an oblique view across the wetland, filled with reflections and the straw color of winter’s grasses. I think it’s the juxtaposition of long-dormant with new that intrigues me. The neutral gray/tans of winter allowing the newly emerging yellow/greens to seem even brighter and more alive. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9423 Joyful Spring – detail from upper right corner with reflections, grasses, first signs of duckweed

TM9423 Joyful Spring – detail from upper right quadrant

TM9423 Joyful Spring – detail from upper left

TM9423 Joyful Spring – detail from lower left

Technical painting notes: I used several soft rubber rollers to apply paint – 1/4″, 1.5″, 2″, 4″. I also used silicone scrapers to draw into wet paint. These tools, plus my regular soft brushes, allowed me to vary the quality of the linework in the painting.


Looking Up, Looking Down

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down 36×60 oil on panel

Painting is an adventure. I started this painting almost two years ago – a somewhat abstract view through trees in early winter. I worked on it off and on all year, tinkering with the mood, the amount of snow. and, finally, the intensity of the wind. Eventually, the painting became a blizzard with white out conditions. I wasn’t sure a white whirling void was really my intent, so I put it away for a few weeks. When I returned to it, I knew the winter had to go. I couldn’t stand looking at the blizzard – so cold. I picked up a roller and started attacking the panel with yellows and grays, greens and blues. It certainly changed the mood! At some point, it struck me that I was painting a brilliant, partly cloudy sky, and at the same time the yellow shapes began to resemble blossoms. Oh dear, I thought. Where did that come from? I took out my collection of photos from the Victory Gardens and shots of my friend Christine’s garden and started to purposely paint the gestures of flowers and leaves. The painting is certainly about transitions and spring, and the joys of looking up and down. I think it also is about learning to trust intuition, letting go, and having loads of fun skiing along the edges of the roller shapes and dancing with the lines. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from lower right showing layered use of brush and roller strokes

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper right

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper center

TM9422 Looking Up, Looking Down – detail from upper left with clouds and blossoms


TM9421 Reflections 36×60 oil on panel

Reflections takes a broad look at the late spring woods on an afternoon when nearly everything is flaunting its new green. The lake is calm, the mood quiet, and full summer is just around the corner. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9421 Reflections – detail from right side with redbud tree

TM9421 Reflections – detail from lower left

TM9421 Reflections – detail from center

Technical painting notes: The painting started with a roll-up of dark umber and siennas, applied with a soft rubber roller and “disturbed” with solvents and playful re-rolling. This established the dark masses. While the paint was wet, I used a scraper to draw the trunks and branches. Further development with brush and some roller work brought the forms into focus and enlivened the color. I used an extra fine spatter technique to “glaze” color into much of the foliage.

Wetland Woods – Early Spring

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring 36×60 oil on panel

With so little snow this winter, and temperatures that feel more like March, I can’t help feeling as though spring is around the corner. Wetland Woods – Early Spring is actually more about mud season, when the ground softens up, and the air feels softer too. There’s still plenty of that white/tan old growth around, but occasionally you can glimpse a blush of yellow green or reddish pink. That, plus the open blue waters, give one’s spirit an excuse to soar. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring – detail from upper left with last year’s dried weeds and grasses

TM9412 Wetland Woods – Early Spring – detail from center with meltwater, mud, and first blush of green

TM9412 Wetland Woods – Early Spring – detail from center top of painting with new growth amid the old

TM9412 Wetalnd Woods – Early Spring – Detail from lower left with emerging color

Technical painting notes: I started this painting with a roll-up of blackish green and umbers mixed with violet, manipulating the wet paint with paper towels and scrapers, and spritzing the surface with solvents then blotting and re-rolling to achieve textures and blurred edges. When dry, I glazed colors over the entire surface, then began to paint in the reflected sky and brush, sometimes using a brush, sometimes a soft rubber roller. A few days of alternating brush and roller work with mainly semi-transparent colors brought the impression into focus. I wanted the painting to have strong abstract underpinnings while still bringing forth the feel of early spring wetlands (with a few crisp details). Maybe I’m becoming an abstract impressionist?

Midsummer Garden

TM9410 Midsummer Garden 36×60 oil on panel

Gardens are amazing. When I was young, the farmer next door’s wife, Mrs. Kroll, had a sumptuous, showy, flower garden running along a huge stone wall that ran nearly the length of their side yard. I was fascinated by the exotic, and HUGE, flowers. Gladioli, mammoth dahlias, sky high sunflowers, platter-like zinnias. Maybe it was all the free manure and compost. Maybe it was her diligent, daily tending. Each day she cut and tossed away the fading blossoms. We raided her floral compost pile, and what joy we had finding nearly perfect specimens to bring home. Much more exciting than the marigolds and baby’s breath, phlox and snapdragons our grandmother planted. Midsummer Garden is my ode to Mrs. Kroll’s gardening achievements – radiant sunshine and a feeling of lush summer every day. Thank you Mrs. Kroll. Details below.

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail showing use of line independent of shape

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail showing use of roller to apply paint

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from upper left

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from right side

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from lower left edge

Technical painting notes: The initial base layer of browns and dark green oil paint was applied with a soft rubber roller. I used a scraper and paper towels to draw and blot in the forms and lights. When the base layer was dry, I used brushes and oil paint to glaze and define the subject further, then used my rollers to soften and blur edges. I rolled more layers of  semi-transparent oil paint to modulate the color and keep the effects soft, as if from memory. I was so small when I first saw Mrs. Kroll’s garden, and the flowers seemed to reach up forever, as if they could disappear into Heaven. Her yellows were the sun. At first, I had a bright blue sky behind the flowers, but it seemed too bold and heavy. When I rolled grays into the bright blues, taking down the saturation, the more neutral gray tones seemed to make the yellows sing more loudly. Go yellow!


No Rain Yet

TM9409 No Rain Yet 42×42 oil on panel

I was early for an appointment, and was sitting in my car in a small parking lot. The car faced a straggle of assorted trees in front of a small vernal pool, which was backed by a fence and someone’s backyard garden. It was late May or early June, warm, and the sky was turning that deep gray that usually forecasts a deluge. I could see the dark clouds advancing, beautifully setting off the gorgeous light of yellow green trees and  blossoming shrubs. With a few minutes left, I grabbed my camera and started shooting the view through the window. It did start to rain, and I kept shooting. The blurry view was even more interesting, The experience led to this painting, titled No Rain Yet. I may try another….details below. Enjoy.

TM9409 No Rain Yet – detail from upper center edge with brush and roller work

TM9409 No Rain Yet – detail from lower half of painting

Technical painting notes: I started this painting with a roll-up of dark green and warm umber paint, thinned with oil and applied “carelessly”  – hoping for some interesting accidents. While the paint was wet, I scraped into it to describe some of the structural branches that would form the backbone of the composition. When the base layer was dry, I continued to use the roller and some brushwork to define the scenery and vegetation. However, the more I worked, the more I realized that I was getting away from the original impression. What struck me was the light, the color, and the juxtaposition of that dark gray with the luminous spring yellow and green. The details weren’t important. I decided to obscure the details with my roller, letting s few details sneak through, but softening most of the painting. Once the “reality” was obscured, the (yes, I’m going to use the word) impression was restored. I did have to go in and add some jolts of color, and line, to make the composition flow, but now the painting had the color of the day and the blurriness of the rain. It felt right.

Dear November Redux

TM9295 Dear November 42×48 oil on panel

Dear November is, to use contemporary parlance, an upgrade. The painting has been drying on my studio wall, held in reserve for a show later this year. However, the more I looked at it, the more I thought it wasn’t quite finished. The subject is those fluttery, papery leaves that hang on nearly all winter. Their movement in winter’s winds is poetic, while their color slowly fades to off-white. I decided to emphasize the color and movement a bit more, to bring the painting in accord with what I most like  – the color and movement in an otherwise grayish month. I added more contrasting values and strokes, made the red/rust/coral/plum more saturated, and  deepened the blues. Feels better. The original version is below, along with details from the newly finished Dear November. Enjoy.

TM9295 Dear November – detail from upper left with tree reflections behind wind-tossed leaves and branches in foreground

TM9295 Dear November – detail from center left showing roller strokes and calligraphic brushwork to suggest blowing leaves


(first version) Dear November 42×48 oil on panel

Technical painting notes: The more I use my soft rubber rollers to apply layers of paint and to blend those layers with over-rolling, the more I love the soft-focus results. Interweaving the rolling with brushwork adds mystery to the subject, and offers a contrast of sharp and soft focus. I add some WInsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium to the paint that will be rolled, to increase transparency and to speed drying. One caution – it’s easy to get carried away with the roller and lose the subject!