With 141 I finally turned a corner on these trees. I took what I learned about separating the foreground from the background in 140 and flipped it. So now we have this bright light in the background and the tree canopy is keeping the foreground in total shadow.
Another huge thing on this one was that I lowered the water line. The real version had it hitting right where the dark branch cut across and it was confusing. So after fighting with it for a while I decided there was nothing wrong with totally changing it.
The process on this one was interesting as well. I painted the whole thing in Burnt Umber so it was totally painted in monotone. Then I came back overtop of that (after it dried) and barely added paint to the undercoat. Just touches here and there but not thick paint or large pieces of color. Lots of little strokes.
I’m finally happy with one but we are just getting started.
Also, on this one I painted the whole thing with Burnt Umber and Yellow Ocher and then came back over that with the colors once it dried. Still not great but it felt good to adjust it and see that making the change can help the composition.
This one is better but still a little by-the-numbers. I think it was a good step to slow down and paint what was really there as good as I could.
I was tired, out of gas, and out of ideas for paintings when I started this. I knew I needed to paint but was phoning it in. When I finished, I was so mad that I decided something had to change.
At the same time I’ve been reading a book about William Blake, Fearful Symmetry, that has been shaping the way I see things. In the book, Frye talks about Blake’s approach to art and how the artist should see the world. The short version is that your ability to communicate something is directly related to your capacity to perceive what you are trying to communicate. So, the more you look and intensely study the subject you are painting the better the painting will be.
This hit a chord because I had not sketched this scene, barely looked at it in the computer screen and somehow thought I could use that pitiful about of perception to get the painting I wanted.
So, here is what I decided. I am going to paint these trees until I nail it. I am going to study it and paint this again and again and again until it sings. I don’t know what that means or how many I will need to do but I am going to grab hold of this and not let it go.
No. 136 is the last Cheekwood painting for the year and it’s a little different because it’s an interior. As we were leaving I saw this scene, pointed it out to Chris and was going to walk right by when he insisted that I take a shot. So just like the Bus Stop one from last year it was him making me stop that allowed this one to live.
I was nervous to try this due to it’s complexity and doing on an 11′ x 14′ was both a help and a hindrance. I wrestled with it for several days before finally getting happy. All in all it’s one of my favorites from this year.
This is really the stopping point for what I’ve been doing this year. I’ll start posting a whole new set on Wednesday.
This one is another from that same Cheekwood trip in Nashville. This is a different view and I have a few others to try from that day.