Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Winter Song"
20x30 Oil On Primed Board
The process: This is my latest studio piece. I had an entire 2 days to work on this and started and finished within those 2 days. I started by laying in a magenta wash. (remembering the day, it seemed appropriate) That sat over night to set up. Then came in the next morning with the 'big sweep' that I was after in the painting. I drew in the character of the large tree with a dark, thin color to get it's placement and massed in the small bush paying close attention to the placement. I then started right in with massing in the far tree line with the 'average', not worrying about all the variations that would come later. The reason I needed to get in the 'average' is so I had something to relate my sky to in order to put the in sky in one session. I was aware that I needed to get the edges of the sky and tree line done in one session so they were wet into wet and the edges would meld together. (The sky was eating up the land that day creating an incredible harmony so the degree of difference between land and sky had to be very delicate and subtle) I then went in with the sky. I used the palette knife entirely for painting the sky, did not touch a brush. I started by mixing several pools of different temperatures in the same values. I used the play of warm and cool temps to create the vibration of light remembered. I worked the warmer colors on top of the cooler more magenta blue colors and worked warmer moving towards the subtle sun. I then broke in the subtle vibrating temps in the back tree line and worked the edges a bit between sky and trees. The large tree was important to me in this painting and was careful not to over render her but rather capture her character and grace. I then worked my way up to the front of the painting.
The inspiration: for this piece came from a piece of music (Winter Song was the name of the CD) and from driving around near Spring Valley Wisconsin last month in a beautiful hoar frost. We left home with every intention of painting that day and was so in awe of the day and all it's beauty, just continued to drive and photograph. Winter is so harmonious! It was just one of those days that it was simply to difficult to pick one particular spot to paint. Like many paintings I do, I was once again inspired and moved by a tree, I find them fascinating! Look at the grace in this beautiful creature. I would love to know what she has seen. . . I believe this is an old cottonwood but not entirely certain. . . . will find out this summer.
Composition decisions: When seeing this place and photographing it, I did not even notice the little wild plum tree growing in the front of her. It was not until I studied the photograph that I noticed this little imperfect bushy like tree. I had no intentions of putting him in until I began to compose the painting and realized for many reasons that he needed to be there and besides the over all atmosphere this little bush is one of my favorite parts now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Winter Light Boom Site"
16x20 oil on primed panel
This is a studio piece I finished last week done from a study I did on location. The light on this particular winter day was very magenta and fresh.
This is not the first time I've painted these trees. Each time in different light and different conditions. Isn't it interesting how 'a place' can draw an artist in again and again. Like the more you learn about it, the more you want to know? And, it keeps you coming back for more, and each time I'm surprised at the newness it offers. I paint these trees because I love their unique character and I love the place they are in. These trees have been through a lot during their time here. Not to mention the obvious ever changing weather elements they endure in Minnesota, but the rising and falling of the water levels living directly in the middle of the St Croix River. What great strength and dignity these trees have, and what graceful gestures in their reaching for the light!