With the right gear, nothing beats a winter day exploring the White Mountains in New Hampshire. This frozen creek, known locally as “the bowl” is just off interstate 93, and provides inspiration in any season (though I like winter). The drama of the off-kilter boulders and ice can be dangerous, but it offers a glimpse of the sublime, where intoxicating beauty and danger collide. It took many years of experience painting before I dared trying to paint the bowl, but now I want to go back and get more views. Details below. Enjoy.
Some trails become a habit. Maybe it’s because they are close-by. I tend to think it’s because they always provide a boost to the spirit and something new to appreciate. I particularly enjoy learning and recording the changes that seasons bring, then incorporating these details into my paintings. Below, you’ll find a few photos showing the development of this piece. Enjoy.
On the first day of painting, I strive to block in the major values and textures. I use a roller to apply thinned oil paint, then manipulate it with mineral spirits and paper towels. I want the feel and gesture of the forms to be established.
The second day started with blocking in the sky and defining the trees. Compositionally, I liked the stalwart tree almost dead center as a focus and contrast to all the diagonals of the granite ledge and uplifted tree boughs. On the third day, I worked on the pattern of light on the granite, and refined the detail in the stone.
On the last day, I decided to bring more light and air into the trees, and lightened the distant ridge so it would recede.
More light and saturated color were added to the overhanging foliage, and reds and violets were glazed onto the ledge in the shadows.
I also glazed more warmth into the stone granite at the bottom of the painting. Finished!
More studies from Purgatory Chasm – a perfect place to wrestle with the geometry of glacial chaos!More in the works…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…..
The transformative power of snowfall – what had become the dark woods of late autumn is brilliantly lit by reflective snow crystals, and even the shadows glow! This view, from the trail around my favorite little pond, epitomizes why I so love to paint winter. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I start the winter paintings much as with any season, applying a dark roll-up of thinned oil paint, sometimes warm, sometimes cool in tone. In this case, I used a mixture of burnt sienna, raw sienna, and burnt umber, with a little pthalo green on the left side. I scraped into the wet paint, suggesting branches, and spattered and roughed up the paint on the right side, where the outcrop would be. When the base layer was dry, I began refining the forms, using soft brushes and thin paint to “draw” the trees. I also use a roller to apply white or tinted paint to suggest snow. The accidental way the roller landed on the ridges of dark underpainting almost painted the outcrop for me. Layers of rolling the shadows and white highlights was followed by more refinements with a brush on the rest of the image.
There’s ample opportunity to practice painting granite around these parts, including this little oil painting from Cape Ann.
Campobello Island is one of my favorite places. The geology is magnificent, with layers of iron rich granite, black basalt, and quartz intrusions that seem to stripe the ancient headlands. All this with views to Grand Manon and Maine. Homage to Tectonic Time is my “portrait” of a spot I like to visit early in the morning. It is wind-swept and primal. Except for erosion, it feels like it hasn’t changed since the end of the last ice age. So much history can be read in the rock. Ancient mountains. volcanic activity, changing sea levels, compression and rebound – a long story that you can touch and feel – it always sends shivers up my spine. Below are details. Enjoy.
There’s a time for drama and a time when quiet is most appreciated. Up on Bass Rocks seems to be a meditative, peaceful morning, with a view out to sea and a retreating fog bank. But in truth, if you love geology, the thrill of touching such an ancient mountain is fantastic. In some ways, the painting is about time – long, stretched out time. The ancient granite, bruised by glaciers and pummeled by the sea, is alive with crystals and abstracted by fractures. To paint it, one’s own sense of time has to slow down as well. The layers of paint and texture can’t be rushed; the tantalizing forms need to reveal themselves. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: The painting was built in layers. The first layer of paint, applied with a soft roller and crumpled (re-used) plastic film, was rough, streaky and transparent. I spattered mineral solvents on the paint and re-rolled the surface repeatedly to achieve grainy textures. I also spattered paint in places, for more depth. The opaque dots of paint contrast nicely with the open spots where the mineral spirits has left deficits of paint. When the first layer was dry, I layered transparent glazes, then painted into the wet glazes with soft brushes and more transparent color. Occasionally I applied paint with the roller, to get more interesting “accidents.” Additional layers of glaze and stippling refined the color and textures.