Saturday, January 26, 2013

Field Notes

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I just returned from my residency at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. I saw thousands of trees out on the marshes and wetlands. One thing I do for myself is take field notes of trees that I am especially fond of, not always on location, but later on my computer. I find taking a lot of photos and writing notes on location to be pretty distracting, though it works for others. My habit is to just observe as carefully as possible with as few distractions as possible. I train myself to carefully consider the shapes, colors and textures of what I'm seeing and trying to store them away in my mind. When I get back to my office I can jot down these details while they are fresh in my memory. I will take a few photos of the most special trees I see to use later, but the field notes are very helpful.

One of the issues I most often observe are the changes over time to a region. I like to return to a location close to the same month or season each year to compare the extraordinary changes form year to year. This year all of the magnificent pines that were such a feature last year have been burned. They will leaf out again, but for now, look ghostly and sad. A completely different look to a year ago.  The water was much higher in the marshes and the color was different this year. There were many waterfowl but really about half as many as I saw last year. I learned years ago that each new season presents a completely different feel and vision to a landscape. It takes many seasons to understand a place and to fit into it's rhythm. 

Study the environment and you will ever be fascinated....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Trees as Subjects for Color Mixing

Orange/blue and red/green

yellow/purple and red/green

yellow/purple and orange/blue

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I mentor a group of 10 painters. I give them weekly assignments and we have a meeting once a month to talk shop. Their latest assignment was to study various tetradic palettes. The above tree paintings are my own paintings from the assignment.

The one on top was done alla prima with oils, and the other two were with acrylics. The second painting was started on location at Fair Oaks, where I am an artist in residence. 

The third painting was done on an aluminum panel. That is a bit more challenging with acrylics because the panel requires more paint layers to start before the paint begins to grip the surface well. I use a medium tinted with pigment for the first layer and the problem is that I am impatient in not leaving it alone to dry. Once I get further into the painting it is easier. I do enjoy the challenge of painting on metal now and then. It is great fun to see the little spots of sheen from the metal as you walk around the painting. Copper and tin work as well and it has become a fad with some painters to use copper, though  the technique has been around for ages.

I am starting to get my technique with oils back again. I noticed with the top painting that I felt quite comfortable with the medium again. I used to be an oil painter exclusively for about 40 years before I discovered the advantages of acrylic. I studied with acrylics for 18 months exclusively and just went back to oils last summer. Now I try to do both each week to keep the skill level up. 

The Loft Studio is full of tree paintings for 2013. I have moved my coastal paintings onto the stair well to give the trees their just due as the celebrities of my year. Come on up to the loft and enjoy them.