Monday, January 27, 2014

The Struggle to Paint Trees Successfully

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal
I finally finished this oil painting this morning. It was extremely difficult for me and for awhile, I thought it would never work. I did many changes on it over the course of 3 weeks. I did enjoy it, but it was also extremely difficult and challenging and who knows why? now and then that happens to me. I think I have a good plan, a good scene to work with and it just doesn't want to work.
As a young painter, I would have abandoned it and started something else. As a mature painter, I want to struggle a bit and find solutions that are part of the learning process. As I have grown as a tree painter, I have learned the value of study more than end result.  Trees are living beings, complex and mysterious. One must love the arcane to study and paint trees.
Today I start on my next Champion Trees Project painting of the Angel Oak in South Carolina. This one will be tough too, very complex and wonderful. I expect it to kick me around some before I can finish it. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Amazing Nature

Ice Trees

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I took this photo this morning before I started my truck, Leroy. It is an amazing tree painting by nature in ice. What a lovely gift to me. Nature knows I am a tree painter. 

This week I am working on an 18x24 oil painting of trees. I am having a hard time with the painting, trying to work out issues with the trunks. Some foreshortening and textural issues to overcome. If trees were easy to paint, everyone would paint them!

I keep plugging along, learning what I can about painting them. I need to get started on another champion tree. I am doing a small commission too, so my champion trees are waiting patiently in the wings. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Testing New Panels

Citrus Tree
oil on gatorboard panel
Notes From My Tree Painting Journal
A few months ago one of my sponsors, French Canvas, sent me some nice panels made of a gatorboard substrate, covered with canvas. They are light weight and quite sturdy with a very good painting surface. I quite like them. They are ideal for plein air work because they are light and easily carried in bulk. It took me awhile to get the time to test them and I'm glad I did. I will be getting some more soon and I hope he will offer them in linen too. This supplier makes an excellent stretched canvas as well. I use this company for all of my commissioned paintings because I know I can rely on Rob for all of my canvas needs. He often makes custom sizes for me with various canvas weights and depths as well. I have done two paintings on the gatorboards so far and the canvas worked beautifully. I'll show you the other painting soon. The size he sent for me to test was 12x12.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Old Friends

12x16 inches
Oil on panel

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This pair stands side by side at Fair Oaks in Evinston Florida. I can just imagine the many conversations, trials and pleasures they have endured together. I think they are probably pretty old as well, though not as large as some of the Live Oak trees I know.  I happened upon them driving the blue golf cart down one of the trails a week ago. They looked so peaceful together that I immediately wanted to paint them. When I got to my residency home on Monday, the weather was terrible, so I set my paintbox up in the kitchen and happily painted these new friends from my IPad photo. What a joy to paint them!

I used a limited palette of:

Cadmium yellow medium
Cadmium red light
Cadmium orange
Thalo blue red shade
Yellow ochre
Titanium white
Ivory black

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Champion Cottonwood Tree

Texas Cottonwood Champion
20x24 inches
Oil on canvas

I had a wonderful time painting this first in my series of champion and heritage trees of the south. I would love to have reference photos of heritage trees from around the south if anyone would like to share them with me.  Please send them to me at Please include any history and location of the tree.