A Pondly Poem

TM9550 A Pondly Poem 30×60 oil on panel

I think of poems as the most elegant, concentrated way to speak truth with the fewest words, and a great poem reveals itself slowly over time, offering nuanced meanings and shades of emotion. A painting can do something similar with a few well-chosen colors and a steady eye – at least that’s my hope and goal and when I begin a painting. A Pondly Poem looks at the evolution of the pond in spring as the surroundings green up, the air gently softens, and showers work their magic. It is about anticipation, fulfillment, and maybe even melancholy. I suspect there is more in the painting, but like a good poem, it will be some time before I understand what is really at it’s heart. I need to live with it for a while. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9550 A Pondly Poem – detail from upper center with reflected trees
TM9550 A Pondly Poem – detail from upper center showing use of opaque and transparent rolled paint interspersed with brushwork
TM9550 A Pondly Poem – detail from right side with overhanging, barren branches

First Signs

TM9522 First Signs 36×92 diptych oil on panels

Late winter can seem so devoid of color, but then one warm day brings a melt, and suddenly that crisp blue sky and reflecting water reveal the poetry of the season. The dried winter grasses along the pond edge seem to dance in the breeze, and a hint of green hovers in the water – where from? I hardly know, but it feels like magic. First Signs is about early spring and its energy. I invite you to join me on this extended walk along the pond path. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9522 First Signs – detail from upper right

TM9522 First Signs – detail from top with reflections and dried grasses

TM9522 First Signs – detail from center left

TM9522 First Signs – detail from right panel with reflections and swaying grasses

TM9522 First Signs – detail from lower edge with meltwater and sky

TM9522 First Signs – detail from left side with winter’s grasses overhanging the pond

Meltwater Season

TM9520 Meltwater Season 36×54 oil on panel

March is a strange month – full of bluster and cold, while at the same time offering glimpses of warmth. Colors are muted, but the varieties of ice can be amazing as ponds and creeks go through cycles of freezing and thawing. Meltwater Season is mostly about the scrims of ice vying with passages of open water, ice floes below the surface, frozen bubbles and air pockets, and the frame of snow and ice retreating along the shore of this glorious in-between season. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9520 Meltware Season – detail whre shore meets pond with ice and snow

TM9520 Meltwater Season – detail from left side with thin ice

TM9520 Meltwater Season – detail from lower center with last scrim of ice over liquid water

TM9520 Meltwater Season – detail from upper left

Technical painting notes: I developed the painting in layers, starting with rolls of deep browns and blueish grays. These were followed by some intricate brush work to describe underlying vegetation – which was followed up with more roller work with semi-transparent paint to “bury” the details under snow and ice. Below is the painting at mid-stage in development.

Evening Reaches the Pond

TM9515 Evening Reaches the Pond 36×48 oil on panel

The shadows are deepening, but there is still some light – enough to see the shimmering, overhanging boughs at the pond. It is quiet. My thoughts merge with the reflections before going indoors to start supper. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9515 Evening Reaches the Pond – detail from lower left

TM9515Evening Reaches the Pond – detail from central shadows

TM9515 Evening Reaches the Pond – detail from lower right

TM9515 Evening Reaches the Pond – detail from upper left with overhanging boughs

Technical painting notes: Much of this painting was developed using soft rubber rollers in assorted sizes, refined by brushwork and glazes. I find that the interactions of rolled strokes and hand brushed strokes provides variety and excitement, even though, in this case, the values are close.  Arbitrary accidents frequently occur when rolling paint, and these too lend interest; nature is full of accidents.

 

Ode to a January Morning

TM9088 Ode to a January Morning 36×48 oil on panel

Ode to a January Morning has been in development since 2018, and every winter I look at it and say “not done yet….” Today, I took it out again after visiting the ice pond last week – the place that has always inspired the idea for this painting. Once more I knew it wasn’t finished, not enough depth, not enough mystery, and the brush work looked too planned.  I took out my rollers and started mixing paint, thinking what have I got to lose? Some Bach, a fist full of rollers, and I rolled with near abandon. It felt so good, watching the details disappear under snow and shadow, just like in nature.  I used a brush and my smallest roller to restate some branches under snow, and accented the patch of deep blue open water on the left. As the roller softened and blended colors it created more depth and a luminous  quality to the surface that felt like encaustic. Details below, and at the bottom of this post you can see the earlier version of the painting. Enjoy!

TM9088 Ode to a January Morning – detail from upper right with snow

TM9088 Ode to a January Morning – detail with snow and tangled branches

TM9088 Ode to a January Morning – detail from lower left

TM9088 Ode to a January Morning – detail from upper left with far shore

and the earlier version….

TM9088 Ode to a Winter Morning (earlier version) 36×48 oil on panel

Ode to the Winter Ice Pond

TM9509 Winter Ice Pond 36×54 oil on panel

The line between abstraction and realism is almost non-existent. Impressions, nuances, an impulsive color or gesture – these elements can determine the context in which we re-cognize a place or an emotional state. Ode to the Winter Ice Pond is based on my (sometimes) daily observations of a local ice pond freezing in winter. It records the changes, from open water to the first scrim of thin ice to frozen ripples. Some of the gestures are from grasses caught above and below the water, or the reddish branches that can seem so vibrant when stripped of their leaves, or outlined with snow. Is it realism? abstraction? impressionism? I don’t like categories. I just love to look, and then paint. Anything else I leave for you to figure out.

Details from the finished painting below.

TM9509 Winter Ice Pond – detail from upper left

TM9509 Winter Ice Pond – detail from lower center edge

TM9509 WInter Ice Pond – detail from right side

 

Technical painting notes: While the colors of winter at the ice pond are somewhat limited, I used warm and cool versions of the blues, greens, grays and reds to keep the painting’s palette interesting

First Signs of Spring

TM9496 First Signs of Spring 36×48 oil on panel

The first blush of color after winter seems so exotic and filled with hope. By some standards, it’s more of a variation on gray, but we know better than to believe that. Those wisps of pink and green are harbingers of brighter colors to come. Another sign of insipient spring is the softer quality in the air. Ice and snow are gone; the water level is high, cold, and clear. I wish I could hold on to the season – but I’m sure I’ll look forward to painting the next. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9496 First Signs of Spring – detail from left side

TM9496 First Signs of Spring – detail

 

In Silence

TM8589 In Silence 30×60 oil on panel

In Silence explores the poetic qualities of color contrasted with the absence of light. It  looks at the drama of autumn, that time when we turn from bright days full of color to the deep, darkening mysteries of winter and night. The right and left sides of the painting, with reflected trees and sky, mirror the soft air and vibrancy of fall while framing the dark center. Is this, too, a reflection from deep woods? Yes, but also a metaphorical entrance into the darkness of winter. The mood is quiet; the few floating leaves suggest time’s passage and form a bridge across the center. Details below. Enjoy!

TM8589 In SIlence – detail from left side

TM8589 In Silence – detail from left of center with tree reflections

TM8589 In Silence – detail from center top

TM8589 In Silence – detail from right of center

Technical painting notes: Some paintings take a long time to finish, and this is one. I worked it up to a degree of finish, and hung it in the studio so I could ponder how to finish to it. I liked what I had, the balance of light, color, and darkness, but the center seemed a bit flat. It took a few years to figure out that small touches of golden light in the dark woods (center) made the whole painting sing. Certain things can’t be hurried.