It’s been a crazy and trying few weeks, but I’m happy to post a new painting titled “It’s All Just Water under the Bridge.” Maybe it’s my new mantra in these covid times. Do your best then let go. I’ve been photographing water flowing under various bridges for years, but somehow I never got around to doing anything with the subject. Now the time seems right; maybe it’s the global gestalt. Whatever it is, remember to enjoy! Details below.
We all know what dark times feel like, and my city and state are in the darkest time of the pandemic. Indeed, this painting and my mood were very dark when I started it – mostly burnt umber and burnt sienna. However, as I worked I found myself letting the green tones of spring work their way in. When I got word that my mother is still progressing in her recovery from emergency surgery, the sun just poured onto the panel. I will take every moment of joy I can find. Be well. Details below.
There are so many forms of longing. I used to do a print or painting every year in late winter titled Anticipating Spring. They were about longing for warmth and color after the extremities of winter. This year is different. Winter hardly came; I’m almost still waiting for it. And spring, well, it doesn’t feel like it’s coming either. Watching spring from inside, avoiding parks because there isn’t room for enough distancing – this isn’t the way spring feels. While I was working on this pondscape, I kept looking at it upside down – the landscape was there all right, but it didn’t feel appropriate right side up. That’s how crazy everything is. Upside down feels normal. Oh well, at least the colors feel right. I saw that green yesterday, mixed in between winter’s leftover grasses and bare branches. I can still enjoy color! Details below.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier version of painting.
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.
For me, every painting is a summation of individual, observed moments, not necessarily a static view. For instance, Let the Moments Coalesce is a combination of discreet observations taken over a few weeks in spring. The reflected reeds, papery white in color, are from the earliest spring, when snow has melted and the air starts to warm. The specks of floating duckweed arrive later, often bringing the first signs of green and yellow. Spring’s violent winds can scatter baby leaves and buds on the pond’s surface. Of course eventually leafed out trees become the main reflection. I prefer paintings that are about transitions, that explore how we see, and how what we see affects the way we record our impressions. Spring is a gentler season. It requires a gentler stroke and palette, some softening of the edges. Enjoy. Details below.
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.
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.