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Sunday, February 15, 2015


 I think this is the most difficult landscape that I have tried to paint.  The complexity of the trees, the way the light is portrayed, creating a sense of distance within the painting, the whole editing process, the breadth of mark making, and the accurate representation of the trees make this a true test of my ability.
 I have been photographing these trees and trying to find out their secrets for the last ten years or so.
 I have visited these trees at every time of year.  I have walked amongst them and looked at them from every angle.
 I have seen these trees grow older and change.  I have noticed that some of my favorite trees have broken and fallen.  I have seen them at different times and in different seasons.  I have tried to observe all of their complexity and subtlety.
 There was no need to plan or organize my composition.  So I set up and started painting right away.
 I built a loose value based composition.  Throughout this painting I built up and tore down areas of the painting to create a more atmospheric feeling within the stand of trees.  By repeatedly building up and destroying areas of the painting I was I able to find the complexity of the branches.  There was a constant effort to find the interplay between the branches and the space between them.
 The sage in the foreground was easier to define so I used it as an area that I could go and paint while taking a break from the more complicated tree area of the painting.  
 I did not just try to paint the trees but the space between the branches and the trees.  I worked the negative and the positive space while continuing to construct and deconstruct the trees.
 I probably made twenty passes at adding and deleting aspects to the trees.  Each pass consisted of working a color throughout the trees in varying degrees of mark making.  Some marks combining with others, some marks obscuring previous marks, some increasing or decreasing the contrast, and some developing interest or decreasing focus.  
The test was over time to pack up and get graded.
 My test lasted three hours.  My painting measures 24"X 36".  It is a soft pastel on sanded plywood treated with acrylic paint and pumice gel.  This is the second time I have taken this test.  I took it about a year ago the first time.  I give myself a "C+".
The value shot.
The detail shot.