New Morning

TM8468 New Morning 20×36 oil on panel

When I first  painted this panel four years ago, I hoped to capture the cheery yellow face of the bullhead lily saying Wake Up! At the time, it was a difficult subject full of spatial and perspective issues to resolve, I did my best, and was quite pleased with the result (see below).

TM8468 New Morning 20×36 oil on panel

However, with time and experience, I saw there was more that could be done to bring the subject into stronger focus. It needed more “pop” to match the spirit of waking up. I needed more sun in the painting. The final version (at top) has a punchier bright blue, and two lilies. One is still sleepy, but the second lily is ready to jump up out of the water and embrace the day. I used a soft rubber roller to lay down the brighter blues, blending the color over some of the lily pads to enhance the feeling of this watery world. I also intensified some of the greens in the painting. The second lily was blocked in quickly with a brush. So much easier than the first lily – how I do appreciate what experience teaches us. Details form the final version of New Morning are below. Enjoy.

TM8468 New Morning – detail from center with bullhead lilies

TM8468 New Morning – detail from right side showing brush and roller paint application

 

 

I

These Dappled Afternoons

TM9122 These Dappled Afternoons 42×48 oil on panel

It’s  early summer, the days are long, and the light is delicious as it softly filters through trees and into my favorite pond. I’ve painted this day many times. The light always seems to float above and below the water as the lilies drift on their long stem. There is movement and stillnesss in perfect balance. The abstract patterns of overhanging branches and leaves seem to underscore the fragility and impermanence of the lilies. It epitomizes both tranquility and the thrill of a visually exciting subject. Enjoy. Details below.

TM9122 These Dappled Afternoons – detail from right side

TM9122 These Dappled Afternoons – detail from upper left side

TM9122 These Dappled Afternoons – detail from lower edge with three lilies

TM9122 These Dappled Afternoons – detail from center

Technical painting notes: The painting was begun using monoprint techniques, rolling the surface of the panel with dark blue/black and blue/green oil paint, then manipulating the surface with solvents, silicone scrapers, and considerable re-rolling. Once this initial layer was dry, I applied transparent glazes to modulate the color, and then painted into the wet glaze with soft brushes to establish a stronger pattern of lights and darks. As each layer dried, I added more glazes and continued to develop the pattern of  reflected leaves and branches, using both brushes and rollers. Eventually the lilies were added to create a focus and to enhance the sense of sweep and movement in the painting. More glazes were used to adjust the colors and values.

Any Day Now

TM8553 Any Day Now 36×44 oil on panel

Any Day Now is my return to a more abstracted pond – a close-up, angled view with young lily pads and a scattering of grasses.  The details are still closely observed, but the cropping lets one see the pattern first, then the actual objects. Additionally, the staccato rhythm of grasses and reflected tree trunks and branches gives this painting a strong sense of movement and energy. And, as if that weren’t enough, I decided to paint in a breezy, cumulus-studded sky. As for the title….well, I’ve been anticipating the return of lilies….who hasn’t? The pads are here, the lilies will be open soon. Embrace the day. Details below.

TM8553 ny Day Now – detail from right side showing use of layered spatter and scraping

TM8553 Any Day Now – close-up with waterlilies

TM8553 Any Day Now – detail from just above center right

Technical painting notes: I wanted this painting to have more energy and lots of contrast, so the initial layer was a mixture of black and blues, with a touch of greenish umber. I worked quickly with solvents and my soft rubber roller to maximize the textures. Later layers focused on glazing and finding the negative shapes of sky between the branches and pads. Additional glazing with cerulean and ultramarine blue helped to suggest the pattern of cloud and blue sky. At this point, I almost thought the painting was done. I hung it on the wall to dry, and studied it for over a year. Eventually, I realized the lily pads weren’t enough – the painting needed more focus. I added some white lilies, positioned near the center, but light enough in value to “blend in” with the cumulus cloud reflection.

Ode to the Shallows

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows 34x40 oil on panel

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows 34×40 oil on panel

Ode to the Shallows was begun late last summer, then put aside to dry….and dry…..and dry. By the time the base layer was dry and ready for more painting, fall was in full throttle and I was in love with red, not the blue/greens of summer. But an unusually warm January has put the joys of June back into focus, and I’ve finally been able to remember the feelings of an early summer day at my pond. This view, based on the shallow end of the pond, is a study in warmth and shade as well as luxuriant growth. It’s also about anticipation – the bud is about to open, the grasses are moving in a gentle breeze, the puffy white  clouds are dancing their way across a bright blue sky…..maybe it’s idealized a bit. But isn’t that a part of what art is for – concentrating the memories so that we can remember them longer, being able to recall the feelings when we really need them. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows - detail from center with reflections, grasses, and floating pine needles

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows – detail from center with reflections, grasses, and floating pine needles

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows - close-up of water lily

TM8921 Ode to the Shallows – close-up of water lily

The Story of Resting Lily

TM8529 Resting Lily 26x30 oil on panel

TM8529 Resting Lily 26×30 oil on panel

Paintings have their subjects and their stories. Resting Lily began with a pond of wind-tossed lilies  – the lilies were, as one, pushed across the pond by a sudden micro-burst storm. Leaves and tree limbs foundered. By the time I arrived, the winds were gone but the pond was covered with assorted leaves and clumps of lily pads with a few surviving flowers. I decided to paint the lily that was tipping toward me.

And so I started, and almost finished, a painting which was truthful to nature but failed to distill the beauty of the what I had seen. The drama of the events leading up to the subject seemed to be missing. After a year of pondering the piece, I dove in this week and repainted much of it, simplifying some shapes, adding more contrast and a bluer sky, exaggerating the floating willow leaves, and changing the color of the flower to pink. The flower had survived an intense storm, and I needed a more intense palette to tell that part of the story.

TM8529 Resting Lily - close-up

TM8529 Resting Lily – close-up from finished painting

Below, you can see the not-quite-finished version of the painting that stared at me in the studio for a year.

TM8529 Resting Lily 26x30 oil on panel

Unfinished version of Resting Lily

Pond’s Edge (with sleeping lily)

TM8706 Pond's Edge (with sleeping lily) 40x36 oil on panel

TM8706 Pond’s Edge (with sleeping lily) 40×36 oil on panel

I’ve been looking at the shallows of my pond, watching the water retreat during this unusually dry summer. There are more grasses and ferns where I used to see fish and frogs. I miss the fauna, but the thriving flora is lovely. Pond’s Edge (with sleeping lily) features reflected ferns, tiny blooming bladderwort, and an apparently sleepy bullhead lily. I wanted to capture the lush quality of greenery at the water’s edge, and the cool stillness of an overcast day. And a sense of serenity. Details below. Enjoy.

TM8706 Pond's Edge (with sleeping lily) - detail from left with fern reflections and floating pollen

TM8706 Pond’s Edge (with sleeping lily) – detail from left with fern reflections and floating pollen

TM8706 Pond's Edge (with sleeping lily) - detail with bullhead lily and reflections

TM8706 Pond’s Edge (with sleeping lily) – detail with bullhead lily and reflections

TM8706 Pond's Edge (with sleeping lily) - detail from left side with reflections and blooming bladderwort

TM8706 Pond’s Edge (with sleeping lily) – detail from left side with reflections and blooming bladderwort

Technical painting notes: I start a painting with an idea, but after the first day it usually goes off on a tangent. Pond’s Edge began with the ferns along the water’s edge (real – not reflected in the water). I worked up the ferns, then started painting the foreground water – but it looked too planned, too forced. After a few days I turned it upside down, rolled some streaky indigo paint on it, spritzed it with solvent, wiped it a bit, then let it dry. The next day I worked on the ferns, adding more density and suggestiveness, then rolled a semi-transparent gray over most of it. I began to like it. Weeks followed, adding lily pads, more pollen, then a lily, and finally the bladderworts.  Lastly I refined the sheen on the water and the sense of movement. It was an adventure. I learned to trust my instincts and to be fearless with the roller.

Inside a Yellow Orbit

nc web TM8704 Inside a Yellow Orbit 34x40 oil on panel

TM8704 Inside a Yellow Orbit 34×40 oil on panel

It’s that time of year when I fall in love with the lilies again – especially the yellow bullheads. They are small, but they shout their presence. As I worked on this pondscape, fitting the lilies into the composition, I realized that something about their position reminded me of the comos series of paintings I did years ago. The dots of yellow reminded me of stars in their constellations. Unlike the stars, these points of bright yellow will be gone soon. They will not assist navigation. But in my imagination I will remain in their orbit and they will guide my muse. Enjoy. Details below.

nc web TM8704 Inside a Yellow Orbit - detail with bullhead lilies and pollen

TM8704 Inside a Yellow Orbit – detail with bullhead lilies and pollen

nc web TM8704 Inside a Yellow Orbit - detail

TM8704 Inside a Yellow Orbit – detail

nc web TM8704 Inside the Yellow Orbit - detail from lower right

TH8704 Inside a Yellow Orbit – detail from lower right