Saturday, January 20, 2007

"White Pines -- November" -- plein air oil study on birch panel -- 9x12"
Painting trees is always tricky. Sure, you can make something look like a generic tree, but it's harder to get a likeness of a specific tree, with all its peculiar twists of branches. Like painting a face -- you can make it look humanoid, but will it look like that person? And the sky -- when do you paint that in? It's nearly impossible to paint dark forms over wet, light areas. So painting trees and sky always seems to be a juggling act. I start out by lightly painting in the general stick-forms of trees and foliage, then start dabbing in some sky. I work back and forth, puzzling over it the whole way. I also like crossword puzzles, by the way!

This was one of the landscapes I did last November out at the horse staging area, just east of Kensington Metropark, near Milford, Michigan. We've had a nearly snowless winter. One of my painting buddies calls our multi-shades of browns (which get depressing after a while) "sour owlshit brown". We finally got a dusting of snow yesterday, so we're excited about getting out there this morning to paint some long-awaited snow scenes. Thank goodness for high-tech longjohns -- it's 10 degrees out there and windy.