Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Live Oak Tree Painting

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I started this painting on location at Fair Oaks on Sunday afternoon. It was really cold, in the low to mid 40's all day. We have had practically no cold weather this year so I was unprepared. I was woefully under dressed for the conditions. I managed to get a completed 5x7 study and to start this painting. I worked on it yesterday and today in my painting studio behind the house. I really enjoyed doing it but my light is burned out over the easel so it was a bit of a struggle to see well enough. Today was a better session and I was able to finish it up. I find that I have become used to painting in my other studio, the loft, and like painting there most of the time. it is a cozy space and warmer than my home studio. The light is better too.

I have painted this tree before, but never from this angle. It is a quite interesting specimen with it's curving winding trunk. I can only imagine all it has endured in its long life. It is perched on the edge of a wetland pond, which is now a dry prairie due to the constant drought in our part of the world.

Next week I will be able to paint several trees at my week long residency at Fair Oaks. Always my favorite tree place.

 Identifying Characteristics
Live oak is a large tree that reaches heights of 65' to 85'. It has a wide spreading crown and is buttressed and flared at the base of the trunk.
The leaves are simple, alternately arranged, and may persist on the tree through winter until they gradually fall as new leaves emerge in the spring. The leaves are 2" to 5" long by ½" to 2 ½" wide. The narrowly to broadly elliptical shaped leaves are usually stiff and leathery. The upper surface is shiny, dark green. The leaves are dull grayish green underneath. The leaf base is tapering and the tip is short pointed to rounded. The margin is smooth and slightly wavy.
The acorns are ¾" to 1" long, broadest at the base to almost uniformly wide and rounded to pointed at the tip. Acorns are light brown within the cap that covers ¼ of the dark nut. The largest part of the acorn is dark brown to black and shiny. They occur solitary or in clusters of three to five nuts, and they mature in one season on the current year's branchlets.
The dark brown to reddish-brown bark is thick with shallow furrows and roughly ridged, eventually becoming blocky with age.
Inhabiting a wide variety of sites, you can find live oak in almost pure stands, or scattered in mixed woodlands, hammocks, flatwoods, borders of salt marshes, roadsides, city lots, and commonly scattered in pastures. Live oak is found growing in association with several other hardwoods, including the water oak, laurel oak, sweetgum, southern magnolia, and American holly.

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