I’ve decided to explore trees in my paintings. I am excited about the idea of portraits of trees.
Trees are important to me. They are important to us all, really. But as a biology teacher, I did a School Woodland Ecosystem Study Project Fellowship with the Cary Institute. That project permanently changed the way I view my trees. I already knew a lot about trees and their interactions with the environment, but I learned much more about different species of trees and their specific contributions to an ecosystem. I have even gotten fairly good at identifying trees without leaves from their bark alone. It’s no surprise really that this would find a way into my art.
Trees are like people in that they reflect their environment. That are molded by it like we are. They survive hardships like we do. That portrait of a tree appeals to me for this reason.
This is the drawing I did in preparation
I wanted more sky and a sweeping feeling. Plus, I changed the left tree to be the same type as the right one rather than a pine tree. I liked how the purply reds were playing with the yellow-greens of the foreground. I also moved the left tree forward to increase the tension and depth of the composition. It needs to dry before I can finish it, but I am pleased with the start.
In one hour… This is actually my first plein air painting. One hour was the time limit. There is a lot of prep for this. We’re still figuring out the logistics of how to do this, but it was fun! The results are a little rough. Need to work on that too I guess.
Here it is after another 2 hours at home. I started by oiling it out and then began refining things. The trees are still stylized, as is the field, but the brush strokes are less coarse and the color is more accurate to the day and the experience in the field. We really did have a nice time. This is an excellent way to remember it. If I were to do it again, I’d change the composition to include more sky. It could use less foreground.
As this piece is drying, I can see that it is a high quality piece. I am happy with it.