Thursday, December 29, 2011

Playing Around With my Five Color Palette

Work in Progress

Notes From My Tree Journal

I go back to this five color palette each winter. I really love it. It is a great north Florida palette.

Mars Black (Golden)
Ultramarine Blue (Old Holland)
Yellow Ochre (Old Holland)
Cadmium Red Light (Windsor and Newton)
Titanium White (Golden)

In the spring and summer I add Cad Yellow Lemon and Cad Yellow Medium for truer greens.

I am ever amazed at the variety I can get from the 5 palette. It is really great for plein air work. Any time I begin to lose control of my color mixing, I can go back to this palette and get myself straightened out again.

A reader asked about Pin Oaks.
This is what I found on the web. They do not grow in Florida according to this information:

The Pin Oak tree (Quercus palustris) is also known as the Marsh Oak, althoughthe name of Marsh Oak is a bit misleading.  The tree is rarely found in marshes and constantly humid conditions.  Nevertheless, flooded river valleys often become home to some of these trees.
Coming from Eastern north America, the tree is a relative newcomer to European lands.  It was named Marsh Oak by a German botanist from Hameln called Otto II of M√ľnchhausen, who wrote the first valid description of this tree in 1752.  The scientific name Palustris comes from the Latin word meaning "marsh", and its is in the family of Fagaceae (Beech trees).
The original natural home of the Pin oak is  the east of the United States of America and of Canada, from Tennessee and Virginia to the areas  of the Great Lakes in Canada.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Physics of Trees

This very interesting tree information came from NPR and National Geographic

Hurricanes topple plenty of trees, but when you think about it, the more amazing thing is that many trees can stand up to these 100-mile-per-hour winds.
Now a French scientist has come up with an explanation for the resilience of trees. And astonishingly, the answer was first described by Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago.
Leonardo noticed that when trees branch, smaller branches have a precise, mathematical relationship to the branch from which they sprang. Many people have verified Leonardo's rule, as it's known, but no one had a good explanation for it.
French physicist Christophe Eloy wasn't particularly interested in trees, but he does specialize in understanding how air flows around objects — objects like airplane wings and such. So he decided to see whether he could solve the mystery of the branching trees.
"I just did it because it was a nice problem, but I think there are some implications for real-life applications," Eloy says.
Leonardo's rule is fairly simple, but stating it mathematically is a bit, well, complicated. Eloy did his best:
"When a mother branch branches in two daughter branches, the diameters are such that the surface areas of the two daughter branches, when they sum up, is equal to the area of the mother branch."
When you see something like that that hasn't been explored fully, it's a very nice challenge for a scientist.
Translation: The surface areas of the two daughter branches add up to the surface area of the mother branch.

'A Very Nice Challenge'
While Eloy was on a break from his day job as an assistant professor of physics at the University of Provence, he started playing around with some calculations, and he came across something rather amazing. From an engineering point of view, if you wanted to design a tree that was best able to withstand high winds, it would branch according to Leonardo's rule.
Apparently, trees have figured out the sophisticated engineering principles all on their own.
Of course, engineers have known for a long time that they have to think about wind when they're building things.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A conversation about trees

Notes From my Tree Journal

I had an interesting discussion with my friend Teresa yesterday. She is a school teacher. She was looking around the Loft Studio and thinking about the tree paintings. We got to talking about what trees mean to us and she feels that trees represent stability and reliability to her. She feels strength in knowing that the trees are always there for her and that she can lean on them for comfort and strength. I love it that she shared those feelings with me, as I feel that too. I don't want to give you the idea that I am silly about trees, I'm not, but I do feel they are a very special part of our world and they have much to teach us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Painting Trees en mass

Notes From My Tree Journal

Painting a large mass of trees can be difficult and confusing to the beginner. It is easier to do when you develop the pattern of tree shapes as you process through the mass of trees. You will begin to see areas of dark, light. and mid tone values and it also helps if you get a good feel for the changes in color temperature in the tree masses. Here in the south it also helps to use the Spanish Moss and large tree limbs and trunks as markers throughout the painting to give you an idea of where you are. It is easy to be completely overwhelmed by the various shades of green and multiple shapes and values, so it's a good idea to do a couple of value maps of the scene before you begin. Here in Florida you are liable to see this kind of scenery everywhere, dense, jungles of various textures and lots of subtle differences in color temperatures throughout.

One thing to be careful of is not overdeveloping the sky and land mass around the trees unless you want to negate the trees as the area of interest. Since the tree masses were the area of interest for me in this scene, I left the grasses very simple, and muted the cloud formations in the sky.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oak Trees

Notes From My Tree Journal

A reader inquired about Bur Oak trees. I was not familiar with them because they don't grow around these parts, so I did a bit of research on them HERE. I have asked my friend Rick Knellinger to write a bit about the trees he has on his land at Fair Oaks. I will post that for you when he has time to write.

My favorite oak is the Live Oak which grows prolifically here in North Central Florida. I can't seem to paint them enough as they are fascinating to me. HERE

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A question from a Reader-Notes From MY Tree Journal

Notes From my Tree Journal

A reader wrote to ask for information on tree roots. I found this excellent web site giving lots of information about TREE ROOTS.

This month I have spent most of my painting time in my loft studio. It is the nheavy shopping season so the gallery downstairs has been open long hours, so I have stayed open too. Today I decided to do this little painting in a cool temperature palette just for the fun of it. I am usually a warm palette painter.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holy Ground Field Trees

Notes From My Tree Journal

I'm a terrible photographer, so this image is blurry and not excellent.

This is a favorite scene for me at Fair Oaks, where I am an artist in residence. The trees are actually lined up on the rim of a pond which is now dry.  I wanted to create some intervals between the trees so the composition would be more interesting, so I made some slight adjustments in the placement of the trees to create space between them. I also varied the temperature in the greens in the tree to create space betwen them. I'll try taking a better photo of the painting and put it up on my web site.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Richardson Farm

Notes From my Tree Journal

This scene is classic north Florida. Huge Live Oak trees with cattle. You can see this on almost every farm in north central Florida. I really love painting this theme over and over again.It is like eating fried chicken, corn bread and collard greens. Such a pleasure to experience.

This farm is adjacent to Fair Oaks, where I paint as often as I can. There are no cattle at Fair Oaks but across the fence in the neighbor's farm there are many in all colors. Sometimes they break through the border and visit Fair Oaks. I love painting them from a distance but I really like Fair Oaks without the livestock. It is clean, pristine, and the trees are undisturbed. The most beautiful land I know. The light there is like no other.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just about done

Notes From My Tree Journal

I'm just about done with this painting. I sure enjoyed the process. I will take a look at it in the morning with fresh eyes to see if it needs any tweaking but I feel satisfied. These big trees are quite a challenge. I will do this one again, probably in a larger format next summer when I have more time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Work in Progress

Notes From My Tree Journal

I have made some progress on this 18x24 painting this week.  I expect to finish it tomorrow unless the Loft Studio has a lot of visitors. I have two painting studios, one in the city called the Loft where visitors can come anytime. My other painting studio is in a no frills concrete block building behind my home in rural north Florida, about 17 miles from the city.

I really like this tree and this will not be the last painting I do of it. I would like to do a large format painting, about 30x40 or 40x48. That would be a wonderful process. I will learn this tree with this painting and then give it another shot in a large format , perhaps next summer when I have lots of quiet studio time. 

I find that I often want to do multiples of a single subject in various sizes and shapes, in order to really understand it.