New England’s ancient mountains and old fault lines yield wonderfully complex geology – and great places to learn some rock climbing. As kids, we scrambled around embracing the rough stone and glorying in the feeling of strength and power that came with conquering each new outcrop. This spot was a favorite for beginners. Such unadulterated pleasure!
I started a group of Chasm studies on tinted paper in March, just before the covid virus stopped everything. It’s time to go back and finish them! Climbing Up was painted on a soft tan prepared paper, with the hope that some of the warmth would show through the transparent oil paint colors. ENjoy.
I’ve been in the studio looking at paintings on the wall drying, and stacked against the wall waiting for galleries to reopen to accept delivery of new work. It’s a conundrum. Do I continue working as if everything will resume? And how do you do that when surrounded by so much heartache? I don’t know the answer. I do know that when I looked at Wetland Spring – Early Light, I realized it might not be finished. It’s still about the season when spring and winter grasses are in a sort of equilibrium, jostling each other. Spring will eventually overcome the papery detritus of winter. but the reworked version introduced more grass, and a bit more green. Why? Maybe because living with the pandemic requires more hope (green) and more effort by many more people (the added grass). Strange. Landscapes always tell a story, including a metaphorical story.
Wetland Spring – Early Light also looks backwards to wonderful, historic Japanese screens of autumn grasses. Like life, the painting is a tapestry interweaving old and new, life and death, the world below and the world above. Details below. Nimaste.
Earlier version of painting.
Technical painting notes: Much of the work on this painting was done with soft rubber rollers. I used the width of the roller at times, but also rolled out paint using the edge of the roller. Selective brushwork manipulated the color and added variety to the strokes.
Spring is quickly arriving, and it’s time to plane field trips with my students. we are hoping to spend some time at Purgatory Chasm in central Massachusetts – sketching and photographing, observing and soaking up the dramatic tectonic and glacial chaos of this piece of geography. It is a spectacular place to paint. And a challenge. While the trees haven’t leafed out quite yet, they will soon. I will be posting sneak peaks at the coming season, and views from various points on the way to the chasm. Enjoy!
Another small group of related studies, this time near one entrance to Hamlen Woods. The beaver engineers are very busy in this part of town, constantly working on new dams or renovations, and in the process creating catchments for slowing freshwater drainage. Their work maintains good habitats for water fowl and other creatures, and filters the water. Of course their work also creates beautiful subjects and vistas for me (though perhaps a bit more muddy than I can reasonably enjoy).
The three studies work there way up from a small culvert toward the more inaccessible swamps. The brushwork loosens, one reason for doing multiple paintings. Each study gives me more confidence. I feel freer to interpret and play with the paint. Enjoy.
Two interpretations of Early Summer at the Quarry, from different vantage points. Sometimes people ask me why I paint the same place again and again. My answer: it’s never the same! Changes in light, season, viewpoint, and my own mood mean I’ll always see something different and challenging. If I don’t see something new, then the problem is me, and I need to find out why. Painting the landscape (nearly) daily is a record of change and a diary. Enjoy these quarries…..
I keep returning to the same places for inspiration – it’s not that the scenery changes remarkably, but rather that the light and atmospherics keep shifting as the weather changes. I’m always surprised and delighted. Enjoy!
Ah the pleasures of winter – this time three little paintings based on memories of trekking through Mr. Kroll’s fields to get to the sledding hill. It was the place to be after school let out, but we had to hurry, since we only had about two hours of light left. From the top of the hill, there were two options. Straight down through an opening in the stone wall, or (more exciting) a steeply banked curve to the right under the barbed wire fence and over a narrow brook. That was the best. Mom never knew. Enjoy.