Thursday, May 7, 2020

“All Trees are Heroes.”

“Ode to an Ancient”
(Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon)
Oil Painting on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
6” x 8”

I thought about calling this painting “Ode to an Ancient Hero.” I have referred to trees as heros, before, and they are. They offer a place to rest in the shade from Summer Suns, and provide fuel to keep us warm in the cool of the night ... and Winter. They provide the means to build shelter from the storm, and a home in which to reside, and keep ourselves and our belongings safe from those wild things that would do us harm. Trees provide oxygen, and thus we breathe. Many give us sustenance, both for our bodies and aesthetically for our minds ... trees are beautiful ... in short ... trees are Heroes. 

The Drawing

The Block-in

This Ancient Hero is at the place I camped last July, 17 miles down the road from the south entrance to Crater Lake National Park. I was aware of this old stump, mouldering away on the forest floor, as I gradually become familiar with so many things in each of my camps, especially the longer I spend in any one of them. Because of the advanced state of decay, I do not know for sure whether it was a natural fall, or a victim of the logger's saw. I suspect the latter, as there did not seem to be the remnants of the fallen log. I was aware of it, but it was not until this late afternoon shaft of light threw it into high relief, from the darkened forest beyond. I took many reference photos,  and began what I thought would be a sketch, but somewhere in the process, it became, what I would call, a studio painting ... but done outdoors. Sometimes the painting just takes over from your original intent.

And this led to me concentrating on a few studio paintings, including a commission, worked on throughout the Summer and Autumn, and why my blog postings have been sadly lacking. I am continuing work on this type of painting this year, but I hope to more regularly post to the old blog. Blog ... blog ... what a funny word ... where did it come from? ... ‘Oo do Oi get in touch wiv, mate? ... I expect I could find out if I was really desperate. I digress. My intentions for the forthcoming few postings are to fill you in a bit on my travels, since July. Not a blow by blow account as per my year long 2017/2018 Minnesota to Oregon journey, but more on thoughts and observations made while ‘out there.’  I didn't travel all that much, since the order of the day was to get ensconced into a secluded camp and paint away. I did, however, get as far south as Lake Tahoe, and spent a concentrated 40 hours on photo-recon. Beautiful colours, especially Emerald Bay, although not as astonishing as Crater Lake's amazing deep blue.

And as I write, I am ‘out there' ... in the Oregon High Desert, practicing social distancing by about 40 miles! I am tucked into the edge of the Ponderosa Pines, and looking out over miles of Sagebrush & Antelope Bitterbrush, and as usual ... drinking in Nature. Last night's full Moon was so large and so bright that Some colours were actually, although dimly, discernible ... very grey green of the Ponderosa needles, and many of their trunks showed distinctly reddish.

I will forego the comprehensive list of pigments used in the above painting, this time, other than to say the usual suspects. I will mention that the greens are mixed greens. I do have green pigments, but I’ve  almost never use them, in Oil, and only occasionally in Watercolour.

Having said that, I did use Schmincke Green Earth a lot in my Watercolour landscapes for my brighter foliage greens. Michael Wilcox, in his book on Watercolour Pigments, says of most of the Green Earth pigments, but especially Schmincke's, that it's gummy and nasty to work with, and all but impossible to lay a wash with. For me that was a plus, as wetting the foliage area first with water, and floating the colour in left a mottled area of colour, much like the foliage textures I was after ... upon this one could build.

Since I'm out in the Wilds, apologies for how this post, and any that follow, might look while using my phone to make these posts.

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