First Freeze

TM9666 First Freeze 36×40 oil on panel

I look forward to the first freeze each year – that morning when sparkles set in and suddenly a new season is here. There are still enough leaves floating on the pond to create a tapestry of colors mixed into the frosty whites and grays. Summer’s fluidity is suddenly still, almost solemn, and feels so realistically abstract! Enjoy. Detail below.

TM9666 First Freeze – detail from center with dusting of snow on leaves that are frozen into the pond’s surface

Pondly Thoughts

TM9686 Pondly Thoughts 30×50 oil on panel

More experimenting with knife and roller – and moments of glee when something interesting happens. Working on this painting it sometimes felt like Uncle Claude was perched on my shoulder. Monet’s waterlily paintings, especially the late ones with their ropy paint, are related to “Pondly Thoughts”. I think Monet would have loved working with the roller, discovering more ways to layer. We certainly share an affinity with water and its mutability. Monet had his garden and pond, I have my swamp. Two artists happy as larks. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9686 Pondly Thoughts – detail from upper right with overhanging branches
TM9686 Pondly Thoughts – detail from upper left
TM9686 Pondly Thoughts – detail from upper right
TM9686 Pondly Thoughts – detail from lower left half
TM9686 Pondly Thoughts – detail from lower left center
TM9686 Pondly Thoughts – detail from lower right center

Technical painting notes: I started with a rolled dark layer, working toward the light in successive brushed and rolled layers. Glazes modelled the color. I used brushwork to define some of the negative, light areas, then rolled them to soften the edges and spread the color. Knife work focused the leaves, which were overpainted and rolled to create mysterious shapes under the over-rolled surface. A little spatter, some scraping, more glazing, etc. Eventually it seemed to reach a balance that spoke to describing the pond and its environment while keeping to my new motto of interesting paint!

Meditation on Poetry and Motion

TM9685 Meditation on Poetry and Motion 30×54 oil on panel

Listening to the rustle of leaves, watching the reflections shift across the surface of the water, sometimes it feels like I’ve walked into a poem, as though the colors were words holding the full spectrum of possible description. Time stretches. I feel myself disappearing………. Enjoy.

TM9685 Meditation on Poetry and Motion – detail from upper left
TM9685 Meditation on Poetry and Motion – detail from center left
TM9685 Meditation on Poetry and Motion – detail from lower left
TM9685 Meditation on Poetry and Motion – detail from right side

Buckthorn City

TM9684 Buckthorn City 30×36 oil on panel

This week I made the formal acquaintance of my nemesis – Common Buckthorn. I encounter it in the wild, and invading people’s yards. It’s one tough tree/shrub that manages to live almost everywhere, forming dense, impenetrable tangles that block my way. I understand goats can eat their way into it. Bravo Goats! I can’t help but admire its toughness, even in the more dormant November form it is a challenging, linear subject that appeals to me. And I also hate it. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9684 Buckthorn City – detail from upper left
TM9684 Buckthorn City – detail from left side
TM9684 Buckthorn City – detail from right side

Technical painting notes: This view of tangling Buckthorn by a Beaver Pond was accomplished using mostly rollers of various sizes and harks back to my time spent doing woodcuts. I started with a bold lay up of very dark, reddish black paint to set the vertical gestures of trees, then played with scrapers, and smaller rollers to “draw” branches and viny growth. Something about the aggressive Buckthorn seemed to demand a more aggressive approach.

Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods

TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods 40×36 oil on panel

Sanctuary #3 is based on memories from granite quarries in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The rock walls and mysterious pools are wonderfully tactile, especially lovely when framed by Nature reclaiming its original wildness. I love walking among these relics of intervention, looking at the evidence of human-scaled labor replaced by the chaos of lush vegetation returning. There is a sense of history and the feeling that ghosts are watching me. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods – detail from center
TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods – detail from lower center showing monoprint textures suggestive of reflections
TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods – detail from upper left
TM9681 Sanctuary #3 – Deep in the Woods – detail from upper right

Ode to the Springly Pond

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond 30×54 oil on panel

Paintings are my way of experiencing the world around me. This close view of the surface of my favorite pond is an example. I love the pollen that collects on the surface in May – the way it both obscures the reflections and reinforces the flat plane of the water’s surface. It is also the season when duckweed makes its appearance, forming an abstract pattern on the surface that reminds me of a tapestry. Interpreting all that with paint is a challenge, but more than that it’s about the joy of finding ways to move paint provocatively around on the panel. I never know how the subject will eventually emerge, but that mystery is part of the process, and keeps me wanting to paint. details below. Enjoy.

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from upper center with sky and foliage reflections
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from lower right of center with duckweed and a slight riffling of the water’s surface
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from upper right showing layered spatter and use of roller for reflections
TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond – detail from left side with reflections and floating duckweed

Technical painting notes: When I first blocked in the basic composition for this painting, I had an idea, based on photographs from walks around the pond. Below is the painting as it looked the first day.

First day working on the painting, blocking in textures and major gestures with thinned paint, a roller, and scrapers

After a few days, the subject was heading in a different direction, and I liked the broadly abstract strokes and energy. I didn’t think it quite worked, however, and I couldn’t figure out a way to resolve it.

TM9679 Ode to the Springly Pond after a few days working on it, before radically rethinking my approach

I decided to do something radical, taking indigo paint and a roller to cover parts of the image, then spattered oil and solvent and rolled it again, scraping away some paint and adding spatter. It certainly “disturbed” the original idea and gave me a new way to think about the subject! I compared the totally abstract gestures on the panel to my hundreds of photos and decided to go with a quieter impression of the pond based on views and memories of May, with a larger sense of space and depth. The rest of the week was spent nudging the radical abstraction toward that end.

Woodland Pond

TM9678 Woodland Pond 30×54 oil on panel

It’s fascinating to see how quickly life is coming back to the pond now that we’ve finally had some rain. It’s as if a bit of spring is colliding with early autumn. I see new leaves emerging and flowers that were missing are trying to bloom. I guess that was on my mind when I was painting Woodland Pond. It feels like deepest, greenest summer, but with early fall leaves floating on the pond’s surface. I tried to be truthful, but it feels strange. More details below.

TM9678 Woodland Pond – detail from upper left
TM9678 Woodland Pond – detail from lower center
TM9678 Woodland Pond – detail from left side

Autumn at the Pond

TM9675 Autumn at the Pond 36×40 oil on panel

Late September and the lilies won’t be around much longer. I’ve been enjoying the last ones as I walk around the pond, not to mention the crisp, sparkling light that seems to make all things glow. Joy is in the small things. Detail below.

TM9675 Autumn at the Pond – detail