Saturday, July 03, 2021

"Sanctuary" oil on board 12 x 16


"Sanctuary" is a view of Houghton's Pond in Milton, MA.  I painted it as a commission and a surprise, for the daughter of a friend (also a friend).  Her partner (who I had not met) reached out to me to ask if I would paint this spot which is special to the two of them.  He wanted to surprise her on their first anniversary.  Of course I agreed; what a romantic gift!    He sent me a few photos, and some guidance such as "the rock is very important".  

Here are some process photos. I wanted the painting to convey the feeling of this special place, wooded, yet bright, secluded from the public and inviting.  I loved the backlit photos I was provided.   I began the painting with an orange and red underpainting, in anticipation of all the greens to come.  You can see that I moved a couple of the trees around on the right side, to make the composition balanced, but asymmetrical.  

I saved my lightest light for hint of clouds, and for the sun dappled onto a few of the leaves in the middle ground.  The clouds are slightly neutralized and slightly cool, which leaves room for the leaves to stand out against the sky.  

  And, I designed the light to draw your eye to the right center, pulling you down across the surface of the rock, then along the light/shadow pattern on the ground, then up the trees, down the branches and back to the right center.  The goal was to keep you engaged in this special place. 

I warmed the sides of the trees away from the light, where they were reflecting onto one another, softened all the hard edges of tree to sky to indicate the light as it surrounds the trees.  Then I vibrated some cools onto the distant land masses to push them farther away.  I left spots of the underpainting showing through purposely to to add luminescence.  

Turns out the surprise was a great success, and I got to meet the partner in person, and he's just as great as his gesture led me to believe he would be.

 Thank you for looking.  You know I love your comments. 



  1. What a sweet story and what a great talent! I love your work. We love your work. This one is another treasure. Congratulations again on creating what you sought to achieve. It's a beauty!

  2. Thanks, Connie. The recipient has a good eye, and over the years has often stopped by my easel on the street during the NRAS Arts Festival to show me what treasures she has found in the Art in the Barn. I'm glad to add this to her collection.

  3. This is lovely and such a personal gift ~ you really created a masterpiece ~

  4. Thank you. It was such a romantic, thoughtful gift. I was glad to be asked, and she loves it.

  5. Very happy to discover your art blog with the very wonderful paintings. Congratulation !!!