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)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Live Oak Light

Notes From My Tree Journal

I will sometimes do a second painting of a theme because I have learned some things after the first painting. This is a second version of a painting I did a few months ago. It sold, so it seemed a good time to tackle the subject again. 

I like this second painting in a different way from the first one. The first was an intense painting with dark blue background and bright intense yellow in the foliage.  I had seen that phenomenon on the way home from my studio one day and was keen on trying to get it. It was a unique painting and the owners love it but I really wanted to approach it quite differently this time, pitting the neutral blue gray sky against a more subtle tree canopy color and light. The field is more successful in this version to me.

I learned some things about grasses on my last residency, by painting out on the prairie. I also learned some about more successful tree foliage color. There is nothing like field study to improve your landscape work. It's not so much about the painting as it is about the careful observation of light.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fish Prairie Tree

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This was my favorite painting from my painting residency last week. I found it on Fish Prairie. The afternoon light was key to the painting and I decided to make the tree a portrait subject rather than embedding it into the landscape as one of many. It was a fairly complicated scene so it took quite a long time to do. I enjoyed the limited palette and using the palette knife and brush work combined. I enjoyed the prairie while I painted. There were many birds there, including Sandhill cranes, Red Tailed hawks, and Crows, all easy to see without summer foliage.

I am off to Wekiva State Park for a week of painting on Sunday. I expect to find a lot of great trees to paint there. I'll have more to show you when I get back.