Dear November Redux

TM9295 Dear November 42×48 oil on panel

Dear November is, to use contemporary parlance, an upgrade. The painting has been drying on my studio wall, held in reserve for a show later this year. However, the more I looked at it, the more I thought it wasn’t quite finished. The subject is those fluttery, papery leaves that hang on nearly all winter. Their movement in winter’s winds is poetic, while their color slowly fades to off-white. I decided to emphasize the color and movement a bit more, to bring the painting in accord with what I most like  – the color and movement in an otherwise grayish month. I added more contrasting values and strokes, made the red/rust/coral/plum more saturated, and  deepened the blues. Feels better. The original version is below, along with details from the newly finished Dear November. Enjoy.

TM9295 Dear November – detail from upper left with tree reflections behind wind-tossed leaves and branches in foreground

TM9295 Dear November – detail from center left showing roller strokes and calligraphic brushwork to suggest blowing leaves


(first version) Dear November 42×48 oil on panel

Technical painting notes: The more I use my soft rubber rollers to apply layers of paint and to blend those layers with over-rolling, the more I love the soft-focus results. Interweaving the rolling with brushwork adds mystery to the subject, and offers a contrast of sharp and soft focus. I add some WInsor Newton Liquin Impasto medium to the paint that will be rolled, to increase transparency and to speed drying. One caution – it’s easy to get carried away with the roller and lose the subject!

Three Takes on Winter

TM9407 Forecast, 38 degrees and sunny 7×7 oil on paper

TM9405 Joy in the Morning 7×7 oil on paper

TM9406 Between Storms 7×7 oil on paper

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!

Down by the Pond – January


TM9400 Down by the Pond – January 36×36 oil on panel

Days with strong sun are a welcome relief in January, especially after a fresh snowfall. This painting, from a trek through old farmland, shows a light breeze scattering snow from tree branches. The cow pond is frozen, but still there, and surrounded by brush. The questions is: should I go right or left? Details below. Enjoy.

TM9400 Down by the Pond – January – detail from center right with snow-covered branches and blowing snow

On Winter’s Trail

TM9399 On Winter’s Trail 36×36 oil on panel

The shadows are so long around the winter solstice; ribbons of blue and violet seem to stretch out forever, slipping through and around the woods, the creek, playing hide and seek with the idea of beginning and end. My eye follows  until I get lost in the woods, The faint smell of conifers, a few deep breaths, and it’s already time to turn back toward home. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9399 On Winter’s Trail – close-up view into the woods

TM9399 On Winter’s Trail – close-up of frozen creek and bank

Out Behind Kroll’s Field

TM9396 Out Behind Kroll’s Field #1 7×7 oil on paper

TM9397 Out Behind Kroll’s Field #2 7×7 oil on paper

TM9398 Out Behind Kroll’s Field #3 7×7 oil on paper

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.

Winter Melts

TM9362 Winter Melts 30×36 oil on panel

I keep painting this place because is figures prominently in my memories from childhood. It’s a small pond at the edge of a woods, much like the favorite ice skating pond at the back of a field near my childhood home. The local farmer who owned the property plowed the snow for those of us who were lucky enough to trek down after school. I remember bitter cold, the sound of steel on ice, and my amazement at how some kids could really maneuver on their blades! I never developed any mastery of the skates, but the experience was pivotal in teaching me to love being outdoors in every season. Enjoy.

Stopping by the Woods

TM9393 Stopping by the Woods 30×36 oil on panel

When there isn’t any wind, fresh snow can cling to trees for days. Our last snowstorm provided one of these extended displays, with a delicate coating of white snow over everything. I studied the effects all week, from a bright morning, through sun, to the early shadows of December afternoons. Eventually, branches reached by sun emerged from their winter coats, but the understory kept its traceries of blue/gray and white. I loved the contrast of neutral shadows tinged with colorful sunlight. I’m beginning to think those arbitrary shadow lines, so evident in northern latitudes in winter, are one of nature’s most delight conditions to paint. I may have to start another! Enjoy.