Auto Draft

WOW! You all out-did yourselves last week with all your wonderful Comments about trees re: last Friday’s post– Thank You! I loved reading every note and  I promisel to mention you all to Marjorie the Elm the next time I hug her,  which, if you’ve read Ken‘s Comment about Marjorie the Elm tree, you know that there is more to the story — stay tuned. I promise to get to the bottom of the elms at Post College.

The subject today is still TREES, by the way: How They Drive Me Crazy.

But let’s start at the beginning:

On Thanksgiving we had rain here on Long Island and it was cold. So before dinner, Top Cat made us a nice fire and we poured copious amounts of red wine into our guests’ glasses and we managed to ward off the chill.

Gloomy days: they can be kind of picturesque — and a real challenge to paint. What say we give it a try?

This (see above) is a gloomy Thanksgiving Day photo. It’s taken from the parking lot of a little country train station near my house (called Plandome) and I’ve always liked this view. So if I’m going to paint any gloomy day, it will be this gloomy day.

To begin, I make a quick analysis of background, middle ground, and foreground (see below).

(I’ve used White-Out on an overlayhere to show you how I suss out this landscape and it’s re-useable, which you will see in a moment.)

Notice how I’ve eliminated the road that goes horizontally across the picture plane  — simplify, simplify, simplify the composition. Because I’m no Norman Rockwell.

The main thing that worries me about painting this gloomy scene are all those trees. I suck at painting trees, especially Winter trees. Bare branches really intimidate me. Leaves I can paint for days and feel good about myself, but bare trees give me the willies. They are hard. They are asymmetrical. They make me want to paint them in patterns, in nice evenly-spaced patterns that lack all the spontaneity and architecture of real trees. Oh, verily I say unto you that I suck when it comes to painting trees. But here goes.

After 70 minutes of painting, this is what I got:

Now, let’s check it against that overlay sketch I did:

OK, so the proportions are on schedule and all, but look closely: this picture sucks. I was way too wimpy with the colors… the sky is too bright (it should have been much darker), and there aren’t enough dark background colors, and I am avoiding having to deal with the trees by hiding them behind foliage, and I’ve flubbed the road (it disappears in a background mush of chromatic wimpiness).

Good thing it’s not too late to rescue this picture from my own timidity. It’s never too late  to rescue a painting, even a watercolor painting (and I should know. I’ve had to rescue oh, so many paintings). Rescue: that is the lesson of the day.

All I have to do is get my tiniest brush out, dip it in a nice blend of black and ultramarine paints, and dab on some chutzpah, and crop the heinous bits out:

Sigh. This is what happens when a painter bites off more than she can chew. This is what  happens when a painter who isn’t good with trees paints a bunch of trees. Every year I promise myself that this will be the year that I learn how to do trees, and this year I mean it.

But I can redeem myself! Please! 

 BecauseI have an announcement:

Please check this space for a special Wednesday post this week. Meet me here on December 1 for my Once A Year World Wide Offer — yes, it’s that time of year again, dear readers, the

Fourth Annual

December First

Top Secret Blog Thingy.

All will be revealed in 48 hours. See you!

6 comments to Paint stains

  • Well, after all that work, you did end up with a great sketch! I am struggling with winter trees too – they just beg to be painted and yet their fiddly branches confound me.

  • What do you mean?I love the way you paint winter trees. I just got out your book to check, and yes, your winter trees captivated me even more than the summer ones. In fact, the November/December chapters might be why I bought the book. Oh, and the references to Africa, the quirky juxtaposition of images and intriguing text..I love this book and it made the perfect Christmas present. Can’t wait until the France book comes out and solves my Christmas list woes. Your blog is a mainstay for me each morning. You are hard on yourself, but I see how those high standards improve your work and saves it from becoming smarmy and complacent..Constantly learning from you,

  • Rachel

    Early morning eyes and foggy brain led me to read the name of the nearby station as PALINDROME. Which, considering that the trains go backwards and forwards, is not a bad idea. :-)

  • Joan/Jesse

    SUCK? Your trees suck? Verily, I say: They sucketh not!

    I think of bare trees as a main trunk, a couple of branches off the main one, then filled in with variations of the letter “Y”…

    Joan, waiting with anticipation for the next surprise on Wednesday.

  • Jacquelyn

    one more word on TREES….
    Tree Story: Make a Film….posted by Philip Carr-Gomm……last summer I ha
    d lunch with two film-makers in Lewes. Their idea for making a film that celebrates trees and gathers stories about them sounded so worthwhile we agreed to drive straight out to one of my favourite trees – the huge old yew in Wilmington, Sussex, to do some filming.

    Now their project is ‘live’ and you can participate. Tree Story will be a feature documentary film by award-winning director Ward Serrill. It will explore the relationship between humans and trees from every conceivable angle. Serrill has gathered a talented and experienced team with credits from National Geographic to Miramax to BBC’s Planet Earth series. And this film will be made differently than any other film: by the public. The TreeStory team is asking people around the world to send them their stories and, if they feel inspired, to give a $5 donation. Their aim – to create a film that will change how we see trees, and ourselves, for good. See I’ll post more news about it soon – but do click on the link and see if you’d like to participate

  • Well I hope to someday paint a picture that sucks as much as this one does (or doesn’t! as mine really do)!

You must be logged in to post a comment.