I Always Wonder How They Do It

TM9691 I Always Wonder How They Do It 7×7 oil on paper

Purgatory Chasm has always been an important place for me. Before I could ever understand the complexities of geology, the shallow “caves” hid monsters. The strangely tumbled rocks and mammoth boulders spoke of giants. The pungent smell of hemlock needles heated by the sun on a summer day is still my favorite scent. So it is with love and reverence that I visit as often as I can, and paint this treasure when I can’t be there.

Into the Woods – Relief

TM9559 Into the Woods #64 7×7 oil on paper
TM9558 Into the Woods #63 7×7 oil on paper

The occasional place to sit down and take a break is always welcome. This granite outcrop with shade is perfect. Maybe a book? Maybe lunch? Enjoy.

Technical painting notes: These two views from the trail are painted on the same type of paper but with different primers. The first painting is on acrylic gesso-primed paper. You can see the brush marks along the bottom and right corner. The acrylic gives a non-porous, slick finish, which means the oil paint slips and slides on the surface when I am painting. There is a crispness to the edges.

The second, bottom painting is on shellac-primed smooth paper, which isolates the paper fibers but also gives a softer finish to the paper – more velvety. The softer overall look of the painting is a result.

Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing

TM9518 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing 36×42 oil on panel

It’s repetitious to keep saying snowfalls are magical, but there aren’t enough good synonyms. This past week I took a hike around Purgatory Chasm State Park along the Charley Loop.  Snow was still clinging to the trees from a heavy snowfall, but now the sun was out and the sparkles of snow dust in the air were spectacular. Everything looked so clean and bright, I fairly danced my way into the woods (p.s. thank you to the person who compacted the snow trail!).  I expect there will be more paintings from this hike, and another storm is on the way. It’s a good winter so far. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9518 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing – detail from upper left and center

TM9518 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing – detail from lower left

TM9518 Notes from a Winter Trail – The Clearing – detail from right of center

Winter Morning at the Chasm

TM9507 Winter Morning at the Chasm 36×30 oil on panel

There are beautiful mornings and there are glorious mornings – I put this morning in the glorious column. The chasm is almost impossible to navigate in the dead of winter, but with a little imagination and a good zoom lens there is plenty to inspire. I walked the road and tromped into some of the paths. This view across a narrow part of the chasm plays with the opposites of light and shade in a high key. I am especially pleased with the lower right, where the use of semi-transparent paint and a roller worked well to describe deep snow and its luminous light. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9507 Winter Morning at the Chasm – detail with sunlight and shadows

TM9507 Winter Morning at the Chasm – detail


Last Days of Summer #3

TM9483 Last Days of Summer #3 7×7 oil on paper

The third painting in my series Last Days of Summer – or places you want visit one more time. This is a view along the lower trail at Purgatory Chasm, a local state park situated on a geological fault line in Central Massachusetts. One trail forms a loop around the top, with views down into the chasm. Or, you can take the trail that descends into the chasm – not particularly accessible once ice and snow season begins. Enjoy.

Last Days of Summer #2

TM9482 Last Days of Summer #2 7×7 oil on paper

Side trips to Purgatory Chasm are a prerequisite for many summer days – the rock walls are just so wonderful to paint. This view, from across the chasm, shows the beginnings of fall color. What’s not to love?

Further along the Way

TM9452 Further Along the Way 7×7 oil on paper

The Tao, the way – I think of these words as I climb. The view from the top is not the goal. The experience of walking the trail, listening to every sound around me, smelling the damp of shadowed stone – this is the purpose of the walk. I am another creature in this world.