Assabet Afternoons

TM9348 Assabet River Afternoon #2 7×7 oil on paper

I’ve been visiting the banks of the Assabet River occasionally, enjoying its meanders and charm. These four oil studies show the transition that happens every. The first is from early September, the following three are resplendently late September and October. Enjoy.

TM9347 Assabet River Afternoon #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM9349 Assabet River Afternoon #3 7×7 oil on paper

TM9346 Hello October! 7×7 oil on paper

Passing Time

TM8396 Passing Time 30×36 oil on panel

There’s a small creek that runs along the studio building – nothing much, but I’ve enjoyed walking my dogs along the parts that are free of poison ivy. We like to pause and watch the drifting leaves and occasional muskrats or ducks as they go about their business. Occasionally we’ve seen a great blue heron, it’s wings spanning the creek from bank to bank. Sometimes the reflections and light are extraordinary. Passing Time, which I began years ago, is a painting I’ve tinkered with – I work on it a bit, then put it aside, thinking it might be finished. I pulled it out again this week, and discovered there was more I could do to enhance the color and light, and especially the feeling of movement. So here it is….maybe finished? Enjoy.

TM8396 Passing Time – detail from right side of center with floating leaves and ripples

TM8396 Passing Time – detail from left side with leaves and pine needles

 

 

is an homage to our little creek, and to taking the time daily to enjoy its special offerings.

Icing Up – November Morning at the Pond

TM9297 Icing Up – November Morning at the Pond 42×42 oil on panel

Icing Up- November Morning at the Pond is part of my continuing series of winter investigations. Unlike the woodland views in winter, this painting looks at the earliest signs of winter as it creeps up on the pond. First there’s the sight of hoarfrost or light dustings of snow on the branches along the shore, or reflected in the open water. Most fascinating to me is the way ice forms on the water, giving it an almost gel-like appearance in some places while remaining open (with sharp reflections) in others. Eventually, a thin skim of actual ice starts to take over. The details are real, but the effect can be quite abstract and magical. I sometimes think this is my favorite time of year – still full of colors and activity, but little by little finding a way to subdue itself. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9297 Icing Up – November Morning at the Pond – detail from top of painting with shelf of ice and hoarfrost branches meeting open water and reflections

TM9297 Icing Up – November Morning at the Pond – detail from left side with reflections from pond bank

TM9297 Icing Up – November Morning at the Pond – detail from right side with tangled growth from shore and reflections in the freezing pond

Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller extensively in this painting, rolling on thin skims of translucent oil paint to subdue color and soften details. Some of the tangled growth was delineated by scraping away paint, some by using a brush to paint in the strokes, and other “lines” were rolled with a narrow Takech rubber roller. The painting was developed in stages, with time for each layer to dry thoroughly before proceeding to next layer.

 

 

 

 

Spring Reaches the Pond

TM9294 Spring Reaches the Pond 36×48 oil on panel

Spring is elusive. The first hints of its arrival come by smell. The air is warm enough to sense dampness, then the smell of wet earth. At the pond, ice melts and sky reflections return. Soon the first greenish-yellow leaves will be arching over the bank, reflected in the water. Spring is a season of soft edges. In this new painting, I left the winds behind and concentrated on the stillness and subtleties of spring, and the harmonies of color that slowly emerge in April. There is a gentler mood. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9294 Spring Reaches the Pond – detail from upper right

Drifting Past November

TM9273 Drifting Past November 42×48 oil on panel

The stately silence of late autumn is the subject of Drifting Past November. Glowing with rich crimson, violet, and touches of sienna, this pondscape shows the season’s last leaves floating on a slow current. Waterside branches overhang the water, their reflections (and a few pale leaves) captured in the still water. The play of dark, emotional reds against calm blues, and the streak of slant light illuminating the current, speaks to the low sun and deep shadows that signal the season. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9273 Drifting Past November – detail from upper right showing last leaves drifting on a slow current

TM9273 Drifting Past November – detail from left of center with sky and waterside branches reflected in the pond

TM9273 Drifting Past November – detail from lower right showing use of rollers and scrapers to suggest reflected and submerged vegetation

Technical painting notes: I used oil paint mixed with Liquin Impasto medium to roll on the first layer, manipulating the soft rubber roller so that it would skip and dance across the primed panel. Silicone scrapers were used to “draw” the stems and suggest the plant materials. I used soft paper towels to wipe out lights, then added more color by rolling a wet-on-wet glaze onto the panel. When this first layer was dry, I repeated the use of rolled glazes, occasionally drawing with a brush to bring out details. Repeated roller and brushwork, using primarily transparent pigments, provided enough detail and the glowing color. I wanted the mysteriousness of November – more suggestion and less exacting detail.

Watching the Sun Come Out

TM9263 Watching the Sun Come Out 30×30 oil on panel

A slice of light striking evergreens decorated with snow, set off by the icy pond in the foreground – this is February. You can tell there was a brief thaw before the storm, from the slip of open water. Will it freeze up? Maybe. But since this is February, and the sun is warmer, all the snow and ice could disappear entirely in a few days. With global warming, it’s hard to predict.

Basking in the Heart of January

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January 30×30 oil on panel

Every woodland has its moments, and this view over a clearing and creek, then up into the hill beyond, glistens with a strong January sun. These are days when you could use a pair of sunglasses, but who could bear to alter the blues and violets, and warm ochres  and siennas in the branches? Not me. Details below. Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: The first stage was rolling a thinned layer of sienna, mixed with violet and umber, onto the whitely primed panel. I scraped into the wet paint to indicate trees and limbs, the spattered some blue-grey paint, and some solvent, to “interrupt” the paint surface, giving it more depth. A few days later, when this base layer was dry, I started to block in the sky, then trees, with a more opaque oil paint.

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January – second day, blocking in the sky and using small roller charged with transparent grey paint to block in ground plane in woods

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January – second day, close-up showing sky blocked inn, beginning to define tree limbs with highlights over scraped areas, streaky color from base layer showing through

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January – second day, beginning to paint tangled growth in foreground, light grey paint rolled over textured color in creek area

I like to work the whole painting, not getting to bound up in the details too early. Using a roller to pick up and reposition wet paint keeps me from worrying the details too soon, and contributes a sort of anarchy that suits the subject. I use Liquin medium to speed the drying time.

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January – close-up showing roller marks t indicate ground plane in the woods, spatter from underlayer showing through

 

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January – end of third day with contrasts developed and shadows refined

On the third day I continued to paint directly with the brush, developing more detail in the trees, and rolling into the wet paint to reposition and multiply the effect of the trees. This serves to soften some edges as well, increasing the sense of depth. By now, the paint was beginning to get “sticky” so I left it to dry.

The fourth day I selectively glazed the shadows. intensified the whites, and added more snow to the trees and tangles. The painting now felt the way I remembered that day, full of cold and joy and wonder.

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January – fourth day with more translucent white paint re-rolled onto sunlit areas to increase vibrancy, blue and violet glazes added to woods to define shadows, additional snow added to tangled growth and a few trees for contrast

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January – close-up of tangled growth by the creek

TM9260 Basking in the Heart of January – detail from left of center