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.

Watching the Maples Turn

TM9494 Watching the Maples Turn 36×54 oil on panel

Every year it’s the same – I wait for the maples to turn intensely red so I can legitimately use my red pigments. For a landscape artist in New England, this is a rare and special event lasting only about two weeks at most. It’s like a burst of fireworks – you dare not blink.  These maples are by my favorite pond. The reflected autumn blue sky and clouds frame the maples, while the drifting willow leaves are a reminder of other trees nearby. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9494 Watching the Maples Turn – detail from left side with reflected sky and maples, floating leaves

TM9494 Watching the Maples Turn – detail from upper right

TM9494 Watching the Maples Turn – close-up of reflections

Looking at “A Deeper Look” again

TM8494 A Deeper Look 30×54 oil on panel

Yes, I thought this painting was finished when I posted it earlier in the week, but then nature intervened. The morning after I posted it, I was driving to the studio and the sky was spectacularly blue with glorious white cumulous clouds (after a considerable number of gray days). I looked at the painting and thought “why not?” The blue skies and clouds completely change the mood of the painting. I loved the darker, grayer version – it had a melancholy elegance  – but for me right now, I want the hope that blue skies can bring. I think we all need it. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from upper right

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from lower left

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from left of center with woodland and cumulous reflections in shallow water

The painting retains its basic composition based on woodland reflections in shallow water, but with the change in sky color there is a gentleness. The next to final version, without the blue sky, is below.

TM8494 A Deeper Look 30×54 oil on panel

 

 

A Deeper Look

TM8494 A Deeper Look 30×54 oil on panel

Some paintings provide a passage into insight. The idea of allowing more of the abstract underpainting to show through in the finished painting was one of my goals in A Deeper Look. I began the painting in my usual way, but if something interesting started to happen, I let it. As the painting progressed, I realized that I was sensing both the water and the woods – almost independently. The painting was starting to feel more like my experience of the place. It was a thrilling moment. Finishing the painting meant restraining myself from painting too much – only just enough to provide a clue or hint at what I saw. This way of working is more interesting, and allows the mysterious quality of the woods and pond to dominate. A celebration moment. By letting go, the reflection I was painting became more otherworldly. Like seeing through Alice’s looking glass, an alternative reality emerged  – one more interesting than I could have imagined. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from left of center with reflections and duckweed in shallow water

TM8494 A Deeper Look – detail from lower right with woodland reflections