Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Reaching Tree and Gold Pond

9 x 14 inches, oil on hardboard, 2013. Lots of nice motifs at the pond as the leaves fall and the bare branches of trees create patterns against the water.

$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Click here for purchase information

Monday, October 28, 2013

Be Light on Your Feet

I like a sort of disjointed feel in a painting, where some things are explained and others are not. That effect feels poetic to me, lyrical, rhythmic. There's an ebb and a flow to it, like a pulse, like life, like the way we see—noticing details here and there, but registering the rest as a wash.

I was happy with a recent painting that felt disjointed but whole—held together by an overall feeling of disjointedness and by a balance of tones and colors. The process of making it was, I think, helped along in several ways.

The first was—as I've written before but probably could never emphasize enough—I kept moving. When I give the same (small, with each pass) amount of time and attention to each area as I go, my work is more fresh and my results are more unified.

Second, I tried not to rely on memory but to look back and forth quickly and often between my painting and the scene—not thinking, just observing, particularly how different elements relate in terms of tone. At one point, I found myself looking at the milkweed plants in the foreground and coming up with an idea of what color they were, but before proceeding, I forced myself to FEEL how high their tone really was: only then did I get it right. Later, when I was working on the background and filling in around the plants, I kept my eyes on the two juxtaposed tones (one near and one far) and kept correcting until I matched the right degree of tonal difference. That approach requires a lot of focus, but I am more in the scene, so in a way it's a relief—to be out of my head, out of myself.

A third thing that seemed to work: when I found myself starting to cover some general ground with a medium tone and then realized that I would need the stems of the milkweed to be darker, I stopped and backtracked, wiping off paint to put the dark stems down on the acrylic ground before going on. I had thought the stems were skinny enough to be well-expressed with a semi-dark tone creating by pulling dark paint through medium-tone paint, but the minute I started that approach and to gauge it against what I was seeing, I realized I was wrong. Fortunately, I managed to assess the effect before laying in too much medium-tone paint—something I haven't always been able to do.

There is so much in just being able to shift direction: to change your mind quickly, turn on a dime, stay light on your feet. Sometimes I think it's the ultimate skill, and not just in painting.

One last thing about that particular painting. Late in the process, I realized I had painted over a lot of the first light tones of the milkweed pods and leaves. I went back to replace some of those light tones and suddenly realized that the painting had developed a feel, a rhythm and balance, that I liked—not too busy or full. And I stopped. If I hadn't kept my mind open at that point and had just diligently continued to fill those leaves back in, I might've ended up with something overworked. There is no telling, of course—it might've turned out even better! But there is something in recognizing a good moment in the progression of a painting and stopping there. It can be miserably hard to recognize when those moments occur, but again, openness and flexibility is the key. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


15 x 15 inches, oil on board, 2013. Beautiful milkweed -- such a neat plant in all its stages. Brilliant yellow leaves and pale seed pods against near-purple dry thistle made this a study in complements.

$825 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Please click here for purchase information

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blue Pool

12 x 10 inches, oil on board, 2013. Stream on a hot July day. So many pools and colors, and such a pretty contrast between the bright water and shady banks.
$250 total (frame, shipping, and all taxes included).

Available Click
here for purchase information