Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter Trees

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This one is 18x24 inches, oil on canvas. I had two goals for this painting. The first to study tree masses and second to use a variety of greens. When you paint in Florida you must practice greens constantly. Winter and summer, they are there. Sorting though masses of trees is always a challenge. I created a more interesting tree line between the masses by using subtle interval changes along the grass line. The real line of grasses were straight along in a row. I am always looking for opportunities to make the composition a little more interesting.

I was able to mix quite a few greens by using a base of Daniel Greene sap green oil, mixing into that the following in various proportions:

yellow ochre
ultramarine blue
naples yellow
cad lemon
cad yellow medium
titanium white

For the limbs I used the same magenta pink as the grasses, with sap green and ultramarine blue in various proportions. For the sky I used magenta with white and a bit of Ivory Black to make a pale warm gray. I used a palette knife for the sky.  The second day I came back over the lower part of the sky with trans red iron oxide and white for the subtle hint of clouds, again with palette knife.

 This is a painting of Field Three at Fair Oaks These rust and pink grasses are lovely in winter. Sometimes they are grayer, bluer or more purple but always beautiful. 

Good fun in the studio with my favorite subject.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Trunk and Limbs

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

Today I finished the above tree trunk painting. It was painted from a reference photo of a tree near Brooker Florida and it is a Laurel Oak. I happened to spy it while checking a phone message outside of my truck. 

I am really enjoying this palette. I used it for the last painting too of a Live Oak last week.It is quite versatile and gives me a full range of neutrals and allows me to pump up the color if I wish with Cad Yellow Lemon as an accent. 

Good tree trunks and limbs can be quite difficult to paint because there is so much texture and foreshortening to do them properly. They are rarely symmetrical. My goal in 2013 is to intensify my tree painting study and be very serious about it. I am working out the various palettes I will be using to transition to the various seasons.

There is a new book out and I don't remember the author but he is an attorney and tree historian. The title of the book is The American Canopy, so I will be looking into that for my Kindle soon.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Live Oak Tree #16

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I don't usually do my larger format paintings in one day, but this one just hummed along. It basically had its own mind and led me around the canvas. I sure enjoyed doing a painting without a huge struggle to correct and fix. I enjoyed doing the long drapey limbs and I really like the palette for this painting:

Ultramarine Blue
Yellow Ochre
Cad yellow medium
Cad yellow lemon
Raw umber
Trans red iron oxide
Titanium white.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fish Prairie Trees
36x48 inches
acrylic on deep gallery wrap canvas.

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I'm about through with this beast. I have to paint the sides of the deep canvas and perhaps a tweak here and there when I see it on Wednesday again. I sure have enjoyed painting this one. I got to practice painting foreshortened limbs, always important, close intervals, and lots of close values. I hope I fixed all of the pesky tangents.  Great fun!! Now I have to find help to hang a 40x60 and this one in the loft studio next week.That will be an adventure for sure.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Masses of Trees

Work in Progress
36x48 inches

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This is session four on my painting of Fish Prairie. This one is in acrylics and going much faster than the 40x60 I just finished in oils. The acrylics are so versatile and allow me to go back and forth with these close value relationships, making constant adjustments. I love painting on the prairie this time of year with the multiple neutrals and the hint of color throughout from the Hickories and Swamp Maples whose leaves are still hanging on. I always love that surprise of the late turning trees when everything else is bare. It is my absolute favorite time of year to paint. 

Sorting through the jungle of tree masses is challenging and wonderful. Composition and design is so important for this kind of painting. Allowing some trees to begin to emerge as dominant elements seems to be the best way for me to sort it all out. 

This is a 12x16 inch painting I did last Sunday while out on the prairie. I like to spend some time painting on location before I use my reference photos to do an in studio large format painting. It helps me to get a feel for the mood and palette of the place I want to paint.

This is a palm hammock on Fish Prairie painted from a field study. It was a dark day in early summer so you can see that the undergrowth is much more lush than the winter views. I've been lucky to have access to this prairie from Fair Oaks which runs along the rim. The kind owner has mowed several trails through the prairie for access. I spend much of my winter painting time there as it allows me  challenges to my composing skill and helps me to grow as a painter.

Monday, December 3, 2012

North Florida Trees

Notes From my Tree Painting Journal

I finally finished my huge tree painting today. There is a glare on the left side of the painting. It is so big that I am unable to get a really good photo. I will take it outside when it dries to the touch and try photographing it again. I really enjoyed doing this one but I find that having enough patience with large format oil paintings is an issue for me. I have become much more proficient with acrylics and so there is the waiting time with oils between sessions.I'm sure I could improve it with time, but I feel it has taught me what it is going to and it's time to move on to the next tree painting.

I have another large canvas, not quite so large but still big. I want to do a painting of the winter trees on Fish Prairie next. I will use acrylics this time. I already have it in my mind, so as soon as I get another rotation in the painting studio, I'll get it started and then take it to my loft studio to work on for a couple of weeks.

Painting trees is the most fun!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

40x60 Tree, Work in Progress Stage 5

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I'm checking in with stage 5 of the giant tree painting, 40x60 inches. It is coming along now fairly quickly. it still needs about 2 sessions I think. I'll be working on it again on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Working on a large oil painting takes a lot of time. There is a fair amount of tweaking to be done. I try to move around the painting a lot, doing small corrections as I go. Today I worked on the back atmospheric areas behind the trees, adding bits of light here and there in the grasses behind the trees. I extended the trunk of the bare tree further down in the foreground to correct the intervals between trees. I added a distant tree on the far left to balance the composition too. I'm having fun. It is quite impressive in it's large size. The photo doesn't do it justice.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not Your Everyday Canvas

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

Sometimes it is great fun to paint trees on furniture. I have done several paintings of trees on tables and yesterday I painted this frame. I have painted this as a commission for a tree lover. I must say that it was far more difficult to do than a canvas. Because I had to think of the painting with a giant missing part and steps of uneven surfaces, it was necessary to keep the composition fairly simple and without a lot of detail.  I really enjoyed  the process. Trees are wonderful wherever you put them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Two Tree Paintings

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This is stage two of a 40x60 inch tree painting. It is a mess right now but I have high hopes that it will turn into something after a couple more sessions. It is oils.

I really enjoyed doing this alla prima painting last Sunday at Fair Oaks in Evinston,FL.
It is acrylic on deep gallery wrap canvas. I framed it with a natural floater frame with a black liner. This tree was full of character. It is quite large and very old. There are scars all over the trunk and all kinds of odd warts on the surface. It has many stories to tell me. I will take another crack at it one day with a  larger canvas.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Getting Ready for my Tree Workshop I

Left Chart- Trunks and limbs
Right Chart- Canopy

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

Today I worked on some charts for my workshop on Saturday this week. One of the things we won't have time for is chart making, so I think I will want to hang these charts in the studio for my students to see how I do basic color mixes  for tree paintings. I have a chart book full of charts for mixing landscape paintings but I wanted to simplify a bit, particularly on the greens. I have a seven color palette for the greens and an 8 color palette for limbs and trunks. Of course some of those trunk and limb colors will work for fall and winter trees too. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Work Begins- Live Oak Hammock- Work in Progress

Live Oak Hammock
40x60 inches
oil on deep gallery wrap canvas

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I started this painting today in my painting studio. It is a big one and I'm really enjoying it so much. I'm using oils this time, so it will work perfectly with my one day a week schedule of painting process. I am in my loft studio in Gainesville four days a week, at Fair Oaks for my residency there one day a week. I need to do chores and business stuff on one day a week, so that leaves me one good day in my painting studio in the woods. I will try to sneak out there a few extra hours but will have about 3 hours a week on this painting. 

There is nothing I love more than working on a big tree painting. Live Oaks are just so grand to paint. I love the big curved limbs and the moss draped canopy. I'm suing the following palette for this painting.

French ultramarine blue
ivory black
yellow ochre
trans red iron oxide
cad lemon yellow
cad red light
thalo blue red shade
Naples yellow
cad orange

I love the way small limbs curve out below the canopy. Often cattle will chew them off but these are intact. This is the Florida I love so much. Fields of these huge trees with dead trunks here and there and sometimes tall Cabbage palms. The Florida I have roamed through most of my life.

I'll show you the stages through completion.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Bird island Tree Painting Adventure

Notes From My Tree Journal

I've been on the road for most of October, doing two paint outs. One was at Bird Island one of my two favorite painting places. It is a privately owned island that I don't often get to go to. I do have a residency scheduled there in April of 2013 for my Artist in Residence Project. When I was there a couple of weeks ago for three days, I discovered this sweet little Red Cedar Tree. The light was wonderful on it both behind and in front, so I enjoyed an hour of painting to study it. I can't remember when I have enjoyed a painting session more. I was able to get about 50 reference photos to sort through. I should be able to get some very nice paintings from the trip in studio. This little plein air painting will be a study note for me. I bought two very large canvases with tree paintings in mind for them when I get off the road for November and December.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Painting Masses of Trees

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

Though I paint a lot of single trees, I also love to paint masses of trees. More difficult to me. Massed trees behave differently. They tend to fight for space. Here in Florida I notice that there is a dark rich value to the lower areas of massed trees. The tops fight for the sun and late in the day the light bounces around the edges and the tops creating bands of ochre and orange along the tops. You have this wonderful combination of deep cool green gradually becoming very warm and light in bands across the top. In the winter months I see lots of red in the trunks as well as purple and blue.The color palette in Florida during the winter is lush and subtle. WONDERFUL!!!

I'm teaching a plein air workshop in February of 2013 during the best part of the winter tree palette season here in north Florida. HERE I have nine spaces left.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Serenity oak

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This is my second painting of this beautiful tree. I sold the first one recently, so now I get to study it some more. This one is 24x24 inches on stretched canvas. This is a difficult tree to paint. There are so many parts to the trunk and the splits are quite low.

My Palette:

cad orange
cad yellow medium
cad lemon yellow
mars black
titanium white
ultramarine blue
trans red iron oxide

It was great fun and it took me three sessions to finish it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Live Oak Trees

Notes From my Tree Painting Journal

This is a scene from beautiful Fair Oaks in Evinston Florida. I love the way the branches dip down from the tree forming lovely arches. Sometimes the canopies run along the ground from these low branches. They form natural portals.

This painting is 20x24 inches, oil on canvas.

The palette:

cad lemon yellow
Naples yellow light
thalo blue red shade
cad red light
ivory black
titanium white

I really enjoyed doing this painting.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tree Workshop,tree studies

Notes From My Tree Journal

I've been quite busy getting my materials ready for my Tree Workshop in November. The workshop is full but I'm starting a list for a second group for another workshop.  We will be focusing on Pines/Live Oaks/Bald Cypress/Palms for this workshop. They are all indigenous to this part of Florida and I love to paint them. I've been doing a lot of miniature tree studies this month. This is how I teach myself to paint. I do hundreds of these studies on various subjects year round. Here is a sample:

I made myself a template out of index paper. I buy the pads of canvas paper and tear off the binding. I cut the sheets into 8.5x11 and run them through my printer to copy the template onto the sheets. I do the sheet in one piece and then cut the paintings out using the guidelines. You could use oils, but for these I use acrylics. Here is a tip. Use glazing medium with a pale color tint to cover the sheet before you paint. The canvas paper will take the paint much easier when you are ready to paint. I like to use toned canvas. You can use any color your prefer. I usually use cad red light. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Live Oak on Fair Oaks Pond

Notes From My Tree Journal

This pond has been dry for about two years. It finally filled again after tropical storm Debbie arrived in June. I have painted this tree many times and am very fond of it. It is quite large and has a wonderful leaning shape, making it very interesting as a subject for painting. We are in the dog days of summer now and I have just returned from a week long residency on the Nature Coast of Florida. In a couple of weeks I will have time to do another tree painting. It has been a busier summer than I expected and the time is slipping by. I want to do a tree painting on a wooden table or bench soon and will show that to you shortly. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fair Oaks Live Oak Trees

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I took my time on this painting. I've been working on it for a couple of hours at a time. I think I still want to consider the lower part of trunk in the most forward tree. It is not quite right, now that I look at it online. A quick fix will work.

I've been doing some paintings on tables this summer and I'm ready to do a nice tree painting on my next table. That will be a lot of fun. Most nature lovers are crazy about wonderful trees. That will be my next project.

I need to take some time to start getting ready for my tree workshop in November. We are going to paint Live Oak, Bald Cypress, Pine and Palm. Those are four of my favorite trees.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hackberry Trees

Notes From My Tree Journal

I have found some interesting trees at Fair Oaks. They are in a narrow lane, behind Field Two, that runs along the edge of the property. Rick told me they are called Hackberry trees. They have an ancient look to them, almost as if they have diseased skin rather than bark and sort of an Elephant look to the limbs where they connect to the trunk. I did some research on them here:

Hackberry is a tree with an elm-like form and is, in fact, related to the elm. The wood of hackberry has never been used to any large extent due to its softness and an almost immediate propensity to rot when in contact with the elements. However, Celtis occidentalis is a forgiving urban tree and is considered tolerant of most soil and moisture conditions.
Hackberry forms a rounded vase reaching a height of 40 to 80 feet, is a rapid grower, and transplants easily. The mature bark is light gray, rough and corky and its small berry like fruit turns from orange red to purple and is relished by birds. The fruit temporarily stains. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Palette

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I've switched over to my summer palette this week which I will use through September.  I like to adjust my palette at least twice a year. They are never more than 7 colors and often five or six. Lots of people think that Florida never changes with the seasons but north Florida definitely has seasonal changes. Many of them are subtle and the kinds of changes that the average viewer would not notice. I can always tell a person who understands the land when they walk into the studio because the get so excited in viewing paintings about the real Florida, not the tourist Florida. 

These are Red Cedars at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge on the east coast of Florida. It is a vast land with a large diverse plant and wildlife population. I love going there to explore.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Swamp

Notes From My Tree Journal

I've had a very busy spring and I'll be leaving on Monday for a week to do a residency in St Augustine Beach.

I really had fun with this painting. it is a bit dreamy, moody and loose in construction. It's fun to let a painting lead you around the easel now and then. I'm very fond of Bald Cypress trees and have painted them for years. I find them to be exotic and beautiful, all having individual personalities. Luckily there are many around this part of Florida for me to observe and practice painting. most of the rivers are lined with them and there are many young ones growing at Fair Oaks where I paint often. 

I am on the hunt for a bald cypress bonsai tree. I would love to have a nice little one. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Notes From My Tree Journal

I've been sidetracked for awhile, teaching a sky workshop and painting flowers. I finally got back to my favorite subject of trees. I have started doing some oils in the painting studio just for the fun of it. This one is 24x24 inches. I love these kinds of jungly paintings with lots of overgrown bushes and trees, so common in the wild places of Florida. I love painting all of the textures, and the tall graceful trunks of these cabbage palms.

 One of the interesting things about oils is that the palette is slightly different from the acrylics I am now used to. Also, I seem to have much closer values and less contrast with the oils, at least in painting wet on wet. It is all an interesting experiment, this wonderful experience of painting. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trees in my yard.

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I started this painting about three years ago and set it aside for some reason. I found it in the storage closet this week and finally got it done. It is 12x16 inches, oils on archival canvas panel.It  is really wet, so I will let it dry and touch up the flowers and the light here and there in a few days. I used a combo of brush, with painting knife, mostly on the tree trunks and branches. I like working on various greens like this as a way of practicing. When you live in Florida, you can't know enough about mixing green. So much of the year is green here!!

A reader asked about Chorus Fungicide. This is what I found at

Formulation TypeWater dispersible granule
OverviewCHORUS is a specialist fungicide for protection against Black Spot in apples and pears and Blossom Blight and Brown Rot of Apricots, Peaches, Plums and Nectarines. It is particularly suitable for use early in the season because it provides reliable control during periods of high disease pressure, low temperatures or adverse weather conditions. Conventional protectant fungicides are subject to 'wash-off', whereas the systemic activity of CHORUS offers protection from 'inside' the crop.
Recommended UsesCHORUS provides premium, early season protection against Black Spot in apples and pears and Blossom Blight and Brown Rot of Apricots, Peaches, Plums and Nectarines. Applied between spurburst and petal fall/ shuck fall, CHORUS will provide 7 to
unique chemistry from a chemical group that is different from all other protectant fungicides
protection from inside the leaf which doesn't wash off
disease protection no matter what the weather
outstanding performance under cold, wet conditions and high disease pressure
high levels of safety to beneficial insects
an ideal fit into IPM and IFP programs
excellent fruit finish
single low application rate of 40 g/100L (high volume application method) or 800 g/ha (low volume application method)
convenient, easy to handle granular formulation
Mode of ActionCHORUS is a member of the a Group I fungicides.
CHORUS contains 500 g/kg of the active ingredient, cyprodinil. Once applied, the active ingredient quickly penetrates the cuticle and moves into the leaf, where it inhibits penetration of the germinating spore, causing it to wither and die.In addition, it stops the production of the enzyme needed to break down the leaf surface for penetration of fungal hyphae, thus limiting further infection. This dual mode of action, coupled with good persistence within the leaf, results in a high level of protection, even under adverse weather conditions.
Chemical Groupanilinopyramidine
General InstructionsMixing 
CHORUS Foliar Fungicide is a water dispersible granule (WG) fungicide which mixes readily with water. Partly fill the spray tank with water. Start the agitation and add the correct amount of product to the spray tank with the agitation system running. Continue agitation while topping up the spray tank with water. Add the surfactant at the completion of filling of the spray tank. Continue agitation while spraying. 
Tank Mixing - When mixing CHORUS and other water dispersible granule (WG) or wettable powder (WP) formulations, ensure they are added and mixed well prior to adding emulsifiable concentrate (EC) or suspension concentrate (SC) products. Wettable powder (WP) formulations should be pre-mixed separately and then added to the spray tank.

Ground Application only
Apply by high volume (dilute) sprayer or by concentrate sprayer.
Dilute spraying: Use a sprayer designed to apply high volumes of water up to the point of run-off and matched to the crop being sprayed. Set up and operate the sprayer to achieve even coverage throughout the crop canopy. Apply sufficient water to cover the crop to the point of run-off. Avoid excessive run-off. The required water volume may be determined by applying different test volumes, using different settings on the sprayer, from industry guidelines or expert advice. Add the amount of product specified in the Direction for Use table for each 100 L of water. Spray to the point of run-off. The required dilute spray volume will change and the sprayer set up and operation may also need to be changed, as the crop grows.
Concentrate spraying: Use a sprayer designed and set up for concentrate spraying (that is a sprayer which applies water volumes less than those required to reach the point of run-off) and matched to the crop being sprayed. Set up and operate the sprayer to achieve even coverage throughout the crop canopy using your chosen water volume. Determine an appropriate dilute spray volume (see Dilute spraying above) for the crop canopy. This is needed to calculate the concentrate mixing rate. The mixing rate for concentrate spraying can then be calculated in the following way:
Example only
1.Dilute spray volume as determined above: for example 2,000 L/ha
2.Your chosen concentrate spray volume: for example 500 L/ha
3.The concentration factor in this example is: 4 x (ie 2,000 L / 500 L = 4)
4.If the dilute label rate is 40 g/100 L, then the concentrate rate becomes 4 x 40, that is 160 g/ 100 L of concentrate spray.
The chosen spray volume, amount of product per 100 L of water, and the sprayer set up and operation may need to be changed as the crop grows.
DO NOT use a concentrate rate higher than that specified in the Critical Comments.
For further information on concentrate spraying, users are advised to consult relevant industry guidelines, undertake appropriate competency training and follow industry Best Practices.

CHORUS can be mixed with Anvil*, Bogard, Delfin, Gusathion*, Insegar, Lorsban*, Nustar*, parathion, Pirimor, Supracide, Systhane* and Topas
Registered trademark of a Syngenta Group Company
*Registered trademarks

Integrated Pest Management
At label rates and timing, CHORUS Foliar Fungicide has minimal effect on predatory mites.
RestraintsThe effect of CHORUS could be diminished if rain falls within 2 hours of application.
DO NOT apply by aircraft.
Resistance WarningCHORUS Foliar Fungicide is a member of the anilinopyrimidine group of fungicides. For fungicide resistance management CHORUS Foliar Fungicide is a Group 9 fungicide. Some naturally occurring individual fungi resistant to CHORUS Foliar Fungicide and other Group 9 fungicides may exist through normal genetic variability in any fungal population. The resistant individuals can eventually dominate the fungi population if these fungicides are used repeatedly. These resistant fungi will not be controlled by CHORUS Foliar Fungicide and other Group 9 fungicides, thus resulting in a reduction in efficacy and possible yield loss. Since the occurrence of resistant fungi is difficult to detect prior to use, Syngenta Crop Protection Pty Ltd accepts no liability for any losses that may result from the failure of CHORUS Foliar Fungicide to control resistant fungi.
Protection of wildlife, fish, crustaceans and environmentDANGEROUS TO FISH AND OTHER AQUATIC ORGANISMS.
DO NOT contaminate dams, waterways or drains with the product or its containers.
Protection of crop, native and other non-target plantsDO NOT apply under weather conditions or from spraying equipment that may cause spray drift onto nearby susceptible plant/crops, cropping lands or pastures. 
AVOID spray drift onto cherries as crop damage may occur.
Safety DirectionsWill irritate the eyes. Avoid contact with eyes. Wash hands after use. Repeated exposure may cause allergic disorders. When opening the container, preparing spray and using the prepared spray wear:
-cotton overalls buttoned to the neck and wrist,
-a washable hat,
-elbow-length PVC gloves and 
-face shield or goggles.
After each day's use, wash gloves, face shield or goggles and contaminated clothing.
StorageStore in the closed, original container in a dry, well ventilated area, as cool as possible out of direct sunlight.
DisposalSingle rinse liner before disposal. Add rinsings to the spray tank. DO NOT dispose of undiluted chemicals on site. Puncture and bury empty containers in a local authority landfill. If not available, bury the containers below 500 mm in a disposal pit specifically marked and set up for this purpose clear of waterways, vegetation and roots. Empty containers and product should not be burnt.
PrecautionsRe-entry Period 
DO NOT allow entry into treated areas for 2 days after application unless wearing cotton overalls buttoned to the neck and wrist (or equivalent clothing) and chemical resistant gloves. Clothing must be laundered after each day's use.
Company DetailsSYNGENTA
Level 1, 2-4 Lyon Park Road
North Ryde NSW 2113
Tel : 02 8876 8444
Fax : 02 8876 8446
Email :
Web :

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another classroom demonstration

Notes From my Tree Journal

I often use trees as my subject for demonstrations for my Saturday afternoon painting class. This was part of a series of three progressive painting studies for a possible larger painting. I showed you the other two recently here on the blog. They are timed at 15 minutes for number one, 25 minutes for number two, and 45 minutes for number three. After each painting, we stop and talk about the painting and what can be done to improve composing, color mixing and brushwork. Then we go on for both other paintings, doing the same analysis after each one. I like doing this for my own work before tackling a large painting. I learn a lot and feel more comfortable before I begin a large work. I sell the studies, so there is no wasted effort.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Bit of Light at Fair Oaks

Notes from my Tree Journal

I had some time today to do this 9x12 inch painting. I love a scene like this, with dark masses of trees with light popping out in a few spots. The challenge is to keep yourself from over developing the scene. All of these studies help me to learn a bit more about light, mass and the design of notan.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A tree Study

Notes From my Tree Painting Journal

I've been quite busy since I got home from travels, doing flower paintings and commissions, but I did manage to finish this tree study, 8x6 inches. (Sorry for the glare) I started it weeks ago with my Saturday afternoon students. We were studying tree trunks and limbs without tree canopies. I picked it up after I got back to finish it up.

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can get back to my tree work. I've been practicing with oils on my flower paintings and in about a month, I will be far enough along with developing my oil skills to do a medium format tree painting.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A couple of Live Oak Studies

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I've been traveling quite a while, so it is good to get back to my studio and do some tree work. This little painting started out as a class exercise with some of my students weeks back. We did a series of progressive paintings which were timed. I had about 15 minutes to do this painting. Today I went back and touched it up for another 15 minutes and called it done. Lots of fun. I have two other tree paintings done in the same exercise that I'll show you this week. They were all done with a  five color palette.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Coming Events

Notes From my Tree Journal

If you live near Gainesville FL, please come to the Mob Exhibit at Thornebrook Gallery. Each artist will exhibit one painting. it is an invitational. This year's Mob Exhibit will feature one of my tree paintings, a Live Oak in Evinston FL at Fair oaks, where I am an artist in residence.

I'll be painting lovely flowers this week at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. I'll be painting in the UK pavilion of the World Showcase on Friday-Sunday. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Florida Pines

Notes From my Tree Journal

Pines are one of my favorite subjects. This scene was behind my cabin at Wekiva State Park last week.  It was painted alla prima, which I rarely do with larger format paintings. This one is 18x24 inches on stretched canvas. I will want to do a few tweaks to it this week when I get back in my loft studio. I liked the palette for this painting, more subtle and subdued than last years palette for the paint out. More tree paintings to come........

In Florida, we are lucky to have seven native pine trees.  The two most common pines are the slash pine and the longleaf pine.  Often they are mistaken for each other.  Both have longer needles than the rest of the pine trees. 
The sand pine (Pinus clausa) grows in full sun to a height of about
40 feet.  In spring, it has brownish flowers on the branch tips. The
two to three inch cones are clustered and contain brown, flat winged
seeds that take four years to open and release. This is a short needle
pine with two to three and a half inch green needles that are soft and
flexible and in bundles of two. Older trees have single trunks with brown bark. The bark on younger trees is gray to reddish and is smooth. The sand
pine closely resembles the spruce pine. Both have smooth branchlets when
young and both have bark that is grayish and smooth. The sand pine is found naturally in deep coastal stands and inland dune ridges.
The shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) is found in northern Florida uplands and mixed hardwood stands. It grows in sandy, well drained soils to a height of 100 feet. The trunk is between one and a half to three feet in diameter and has rough reddish brown bark. Remaining on the tree for many years, the two inch cones make nice holiday decorations. The yellow-green needles are two to five inches and in bundles of two and three. It grows best in full sun and is drought tolerant.
The slash pine (Pinus elliottii) is the most widespread. It grows natively from the western panhandle to the tip of the peninsula and the keys. They are found in open woodlands and fields in full sun and tolerate many soil types. With a fast growth rate, they can reach a height of 80 feet. The dark green needles are 8 to 12 inches and are in bundles of two and three. Its branches are at the top of a tall dark brown trunk that can be up to three feet in diameter. The purple-brown flowers appear in spring. Throughout the year, it has three to five inch long spiny-scaled cones that contain the seeds. Although pines are fire resistant, this pine is more fire dependent. The heat helps the cones open and release their seeds. The seeds are a food source for small animals and birds.
The spruce pine (Pinus glabra) grows in moist soil that is fertile and acidic. It is found in rich woodlands and mixed hardwood forests. It likes full sun and reaches a height of 80 feet, growing fast during the first five years, then the growth rate slows. Younger trees have gray bark and branches near the ground while the older trees have almost black bark and are more open with branches at the top. At the end of these branches are short yellow clusters of flowers in spring. Being one of the short needle pines, the spruce has dark green to yellow green needles that are two to three inches long and are in bundles of two. The cones are up to two inches in length and come in clusters of two or three. These small cones remain on the tree for two to three years and turn gray as they age.
The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) grows to a height of 80 feet in full sun. It is found in sandhill uplands and flatwoods ecosystem. It has a tall straight trunk with thick brown bark and branches at the top. During the spring, rose-purple flower clusters are borne on the branch tips. The glossy needles are nine to 18 inches long and are in bundles of three. Early settlers used to make baskets with these long needles. The large brown cones that are up to ten inches long, make good holiday decorations. This pine likes acidic soil that is well drained, dry and sandy. The first seven years of its life are spent in a rosette (or grassy) stage. This is the longest lived along the pine trees. Due to their fire resistance, longleaf pines may be found with an understory of only saw palmettos or no understory at all.
The pond pine (Pinus serotina) occurs naturally throughout the panhandle and southern central Florida in poorly drained flatwoods and pond edges. The four to eight inch needles are in bundles of three and four. There are many short branches that occur all along the sometimes twisted and deformed looking trunk. After an injury from a fire, foliage may grow in tufts right from the trunk. The cones are 'top' shaped and remain unopened on the tree for many years.
The loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) is the fastest growing southern pine. It grows in full sun up to 80 feet. The small yellowish brown flowers are borne on the ends of the branches in spring. While it tolerates many soil types, it prefers slightly acidic soil. The yellowish green needles are six to ten inches long and are in bundles of three. Sharp spines line the tips of the three to six inch brown cones. This pine does not have a deep root system and is easy to transplant. A rather widespread pine, it can be found in old fields, uplands and low woodlands from northern to just below central Florida.
There are several key factors in identifying pine trees: bark, cones, needle length, how many needles are bound together in a cluster , and habitat. All these factors must be taken into consideration to properly identify the pines because occasionally trees within the same species have characteristics similar to other species.
Some pines occur throughout the state. Others are limited to specific habitats. There are pine trees in nearly every Florida ecosystem. So climb back into that hammock and enjoy those pines throughout the year.

Herman Kurtz and Robert K. Godfrey. Trees of Northern Florida. University Presses of Florida. 1986
Gil Nelson. The Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida. Pineapple Press, Inc. 1996 Gil Nelson. The Trees of Florida. Pineapple Press, Inc. 1994 (plant encyclopedia) (search LSU Ag center Tree Index)