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New Work: Forest in Shade, oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches


Oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches

In the studio

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About this artwork:

This is a piece started 7 months ago and after many trials, the breakthrough finally came. From the beginning, the idea was a cascading line of trees with an interesting foreground. Simple enough.

So, I turned it into a playground off and on for all those months. In the foreground there was once snow, then a river with a bright dirt bank. Oh, then maybe a small pond would be better, and on and on it went.

I let all of those failed options go and focused back to the original idea of the trees running across 5 feet of canvas and how to make it interesting. Throughout the entire process, I kept them in shade but there wasn’t much variety in that original blue forest – all of the trees were blocked in with the same scrambled brushwork, something like a bush would appear to be.

After days turned into months, that big group of bushy trees were getting really boring and irritating. It was time for new moves to be made.

There is a nice, flowing line to the general shape of those trees that I always found appealing and it was the core of this composition. I tried inserting spaces at times, but it broke up the elegance of that long, blue line.

The best solution wasn’t intuitive but it worked very well – adding a mass of upward reaching tree shapes and lighter colored tree trunks to enhance an upward movement and shape to some, but not all of the trees.

That move changed everything and it opened up ways to add more colors into the center-most trees – reds, greens and aquas. The larger, horizontal flow that was the original intent of this oil was not interrupted, but now enhanced. The eye continually moves back and forth horizontally to take in the different hues in the tree line.

That side to side movement was the cue to do the same with the foreground by using brighter, horizontal bands of color to enhance that now precious flow and enhance the trees in shadow.

Behind the tree tops, more bands of blue and yellow are also running horizontally but they are not allowed the full width on the oil. The flow of the larger tree line takes precedence.

Nothing else is needed, so the sky is a glowing mélange of color that subtly changes from side to side but without obvious, lateral marks.

That’s a lot of complexity for such a simple idea, but keeping to the spirit of the playground, there are many delights.




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