Climate change. The words are in the news all the time, like a background hum, or a mosquito whine you can’t avoid. When I visit the pond, evidence is everywhere, whether in an arctic blast or the 40 degree weather that follows a couple hours later. I see the trees downed by severe windstorms, the land flooded with late fall and early winter rains that usually aren’t. Despite the losses, I am still overwhelmed by the beauty nature shows me. With extreme temperature changes this winter, I have seen the pond freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw/freeze. So many forms of frozen ripple, crack, crumple. I think about how to portray the frozen lace in paint, how to sneak up on the glorious effects, how to make the process look effortless. Time and experimentation. Details below.
Technical painting notes: I started the painting with a roll-up of dark, thin oil paint establishing major values, then worked to define the clumps of grasses with a silicone scraper. When the underlayer was dry, I started to define the ripples and alternate this brushwork with glazes. A narrow roller was used build the thicket of marks that would become underwater vegetation. I used a wider rubber roller to glaze over and smudge the ripples, and to start laying in the larger bands of blue open water. Alternating brush and roller, I put details down then semi-buried them under rolled nearly transparent glazes to suggest the luminous ice forming around the grass clumps. Including a touch of olive green brought the colors into balance and serves as a reminder that what is frozen now will be green again.
What compels me to keep visiting Hamlen Woods? I think it is the nearly hypnotic trance I fall into as I walk the perimeters of the creeks and ponds, all linked and providing rich habitats. I become hyper aware of sounds, color, and especially the way time seems to slow down as I watch leaves float and spin on the currents, or the way pine needles hover on the surface, collect, and then disappear. Maybe it’s the way silently observing the pond takes me completely out of myself, as if I weren’t there. Or maybe it’s getting to know the place so well that every tree limb, lily, and frog feels like an old friend. I just love it. Details from Slow Drift below. Enjoy.
Some paintings are years in development. The initial idea seems like a good one, but the artist’s skills aren’t yet up to the challenge. The Winter Pond is one of those paintings. Every winter I worked on it, then got stuck. But today, I realized where it had to go, and how I might get there. I think the solution was partly in taking bigger risks, losing the brush, and embracing every rubber roller in my arsenal. The colors are based on my pond/swamp, and the gestures, but I took liberties with placement and angle of perception. Letting the abstract qualities dominate brought the painting closer to the feeling of the place and that cold time of year when there is some meltwater but still a lot of ice and snow. I also gained some insights into how I might tackle some larger paintings or diptychs……..the fun begins! Details below. Enjoy!
I’ve walked these woods in every season, and they always inspire me. While the painting is based on a particular view from a granite outcrop, the painting is a hybrid of what I’ve seen and the accidental effects that happen when I use monoprint techniques on the panel – drips, scrapes, spatters and blots all used to suggest the gestures of growth, the textures of late autumn. The successful intersection of chance and intent is the most exciting place to be. Enjoy. Details below.
It is glorious after a week of rain to finally see the sun illuminating fall’s yellow excitement. It can take your breath away! At the pond, the effect is doubled.
Technical painting notes: October with a Spot of Blue was developed in stages over a few days, mostly using a knife to keep it loose and to take advantage of the happy accidents that can occur with a knife, as opposed to the more controlled brush. It’s more of a color field study than a landscape, though there is enough information to understand the locale that inspired it. I used Liquin Impasto medium to give body to the paint and speed drying.
Still lush after all the rain this summer and fall, but the colors are changing. I spent time this week sitting on a bench getting reacquainted with my pond. I love the way it is always the same and so different, like a constant in my life.