Reflections

TM9421 Reflections 36×60 oil on panel

Reflections takes a broad look at the late spring woods on an afternoon when nearly everything is flaunting its new green. The lake is calm, the mood quiet, and full summer is just around the corner. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9421 Reflections – detail from right side with redbud tree

TM9421 Reflections – detail from lower left

TM9421 Reflections – detail from center

Technical painting notes: The painting started with a roll-up of dark umber and siennas, applied with a soft rubber roller and “disturbed” with solvents and playful re-rolling. This established the dark masses. While the paint was wet, I used a scraper to draw the trunks and branches. Further development with brush and some roller work brought the forms into focus and enlivened the color. I used an extra fine spatter technique to “glaze” color into much of the foliage.

Autumn Afternoon at the Pond

TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond 30×60 oil on panel

I never really know what I’ll see when I walk down to the pond, but I always know there will be something spectacular to paint. This past week, everything was glowing gold, a color that signals the end of autumn is close by. Between the trembling and falling leaves, blue sky, and a few scarlet maples hiding(?) behind the birch and willows – well – it was better than fireworks. Returning to the studio I knew I had to find a way to share the experience. Not just the facts, but the feel of all that color and the sense of being immersed in it. Autumn Afternoon at the Pond is my homage to the experience and my way of saying thank you. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail with gesture of leaves from upper right

TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail showing effects of wind

TM9358 Autumn Afternoon at the Pond – detail from lower edge with reflected red tree behind swaying branches

Technical painting notes: This painting on panel is all about using primarily soft rubber rollers to apply the paint in layers, intermixing a bit of brushwork for variety. I mix a group of colors, add Winsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium to help with the rolling out and drying, then just begin rolling. The paint application is thin, so that colors can blend and show through. Over the course of a few days, the layers of transparent rolling can really start to glow. I’ve found over the years that too much careful detail can interrupt the feeling of spontaneous arrival – as if we are arriving at a place with a magnifying glass. All that matters is the telling detail – the idiosyncratic moment that captures the spirit of what’s going on, and reveals some careful looking but more joy than determination.

 

Ode to an Autumn Afternoon

TM9182 Ode to an Autumn Afternoon 42×48 oil on panel

One of my earliest memories is from the day I started wearing eyeglasses. I was in the back seat of my parent’s car, looking up through the window and seeing TREES WITH LEAVES. It was a staggering sight – I only knew trees as blurs. Maybe that’s why I’m still so fascinated by the sight and experience of trees. Their movements mesmerize me – all that overlapping color and shape, and the contrast of blurry with sharp detail (STEMS! WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!). Every time I start painting the view up, into, or through trees I feel like a little kid again, experiencing the joy of sight for the first time. Thank you, trees, for the wonder and the breeze. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9182 Ode to an Autumn Afternoon – detail from right side

TM9182 Ode to an Autumn Afternoon – detail from upper left

Technical painting notes: After painting many oil on paper studies, my arboreal series is beginning to take shape. Ode to an Autumn Afternoon is certainly about warmth and the movement of air through trees. It also uses a range of techniques to explore ways of seeing leaves – as blurred and moving shapes and as outlines scraped into wet paint or applied with a brush. The close harmonies of tone and color are soothing. Using semi-transparent color applied thinly with a roller contributes to the nuanced color. Liquin Impasto medium was mixed into the paint to provide transparency and speed drying.Sometimes,  Sometimes I used the edge of the roller to draw lines, sometimes a narrow roller, and of course occasionally a narrow flat brush.

Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves

TM9160 Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves 36×54 oil on panel

Another interpretation of looking through trees – a bird’s-eye view, maybe? I don’t know if I’m swooping in to land on a branch, or studying the whole scene in the pond’s reflection, but it’s a tumultuous world of light and color and I’m loving it! Details below. Enjoy.

TM9160 Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves – detail from lower edge showing soft focus roller paint application with sharper edged brush work

TM9160 Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves – detail from right of center showing brush and roller paint application

TM9160 Ode to the Frail and Fluttering Leaves – detail from left side with sky and clouds

Technical painting notes: Adding Winsor Newton Liquin Impasto Medium to the oil paint speeds the drying and makes rolling out color easier. I often use half medium/half oil paint when rolling. It also increases translucency and provides a kind of glow as the colors layer over each other. When working with the roller, remember you can let it “hop, skip, and jump” its way across the surface, or use the edge of the roller for thinner lines.

Drift

TM9024 Drift 32×46 oil on panel

It seems like I’m always hovering around bodies of water. Drift is based on a nearby creek. The creek itself is quite narrow, lined with an assortment of shrubs and overhanging trees, grapevines, bittersweet, poison ivy – all the usual suspects. I walk its length most days, looking for interesting reflections, bits of white clouds in the water, wildlife, and anything that might be swimming. Recently, I saw gorgeous white blossoms drifting on the current. They had fallen from a flowering tree – I don’t know its name. I knew they had to go in a painting. The turquoise and ultramarine speak to the blue sky of that day, with its bright white clouds.  Dancing branches overhanging the water seem to want to tickle the flowers, interrupting their stately progression downstream. A humble creek can be magnificent. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9024 Drift – detail from left side showing creek with overhanging branches

TM9024 Drift – detail from center with fallen flowers drifting on the current

Technical painting notes: The painting shows my use of a soft rubber roller to apply some of the paint, especially to suggest a breeze riffling the overhanging branches. I used a silicone scraper to initially draw the branches into the base layer, then selectively colored them. Alkyd glazes were used to build up color.

September’s Ode

TM8997 September’s Ode 30×50 oil on panel

Strong ultramarine blue can be intoxicating, and I was drunk with it when I painted September’s Ode. The brisk blue autumn skies contrast so well with strong yellow golds and slightly violet browns. The whole painting was an excuse to use those colors, though I did add some vestigial green to balance it. What can I say – happiness and blue skies are meant to be savored. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8997 September’s Ode – detail from upper right showing layers, use of brush, scraping into wet paint, spatter

TM8997 September’s Ode – detail from right of center showing use of spatter and roller marks

Technical painting notes: As you can see from the details above, the painting is a mixture of controlled and loose painting. I used a soft rubber roller to apply the first base layer, then used it again for some of the last few green and yellow leaves. The roller’s staccato rhythm and choppy marks lend variety. I spritzed the base layer with mineral spirits to create the light “dots”, looking for a way to let it show through and keep the actual paint interesting. The process of layering transparent glazes and semi-transparent strokes increases the sense of depth. I use Winsor Newton Liquin medium to increase transparency and to speed drying.

TM8997 September’s Ode – detail with reflections of cumulus cloud and yellow leaves

TM8997 September’s Ode – detail from right side with reflections on shallow water, sunlit pond bottom showing through

A Quiet Trio (achieved with the roller)

TM8963 Spring Finds a Way 7×7 oil on paper

TM8964 Ode to the Month of May 7×7 oil on paper

TM8965 Turning 7×7 oil on paper

These three, small oil paintings on prepared paper explore the reflections seen at my favorite pond – they also were an excuse to play with a soft rubber brayer, or roller,  for applying the paint. I used a palette knife to apply broad areas of paint quickly, then drew into the paint with a pencil and a silicone scraper. With a “scaffolding” in place, I used the roller to soften and smear the paint, letting it soften edges and mute colors. When the initial layer was dry, I went back with brush and roller to refine the image, then added more pencil and scraping to restore lines and structure. Compared to the bold marks of a palette knife, the roller works well as a softening tool. It can really change the mood of a painting. While each of these paintings began life as an autumnal study, the gentleness of the roller’s effect seemed more appropriate to the softer airs of spring – hence the new titles for two of the paintings.