Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Work in Progress

Notes From my Tree Journal


I don't have an image of the painting yet but I'm working on an 18x24 painting of the above tree reference photo. The tree is growing in the new field at Fair Oaks in Evinston Florida. It is a magnificent Live Oak, simply massive. I'm well into the painting and should be through in a few days. I'll post it when I'm done.

Some of my students have asked me about my tree painting methods and I try to work in an organic way. By that, I mean that I don't do large linear strokes, just filling in the shapes and color. Instead, I vary the direction of my brush strokes, sometimes crossing over the shape in sideways brush direction, changing from warm to cool bark color back and forth, mixing purples, grays, blues, reds, oranges into the various parts of the tree as I go.Giving bark texture in some areas and some areas without so much texture. I like to push some limbs to another plane by cooling them as they recede into blues and grays. Trees are alive and they need that feel to them. They are not static brown and green like so many painters portray them. They are not predictable and drab. The canopy in this particular tree is so heavy and low to the ground that in order to paint it, I had to step under the canopy inside the core to the trunk, as that is the most interesting part. It is like a secret place inside. Because of this, most of the canopy in the painting will be behind the trunk area, and less important than the trunk and limbs. All of these issues have to be considered in a painting. So many decisions have to be made along the way.

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