Month: April 2018

Awkward on Paper

I have been remiss in my diary and my treescapes are all out of order. I started 100 at Hoyt Arboretum after making sketches for 99 at E.E. Wilson Wildlife Refuge but then I finished 100 and as soon as it was finished, it became 99 which makes what was 99 now 100, sigh.

I have been fatigued and while it is possible to paint fatigued it takes so much effort to do my day job and feed myself that the sketches from E.E. Wilson sat for three and a half weeks before I even looked at them.

And while it is possible to paint fatigued it is an internal slapstick the way chess is a sport. My normal battle with a short attention span was all but lost at Hoyt. It is odd to feel a resentment toward branches for their complexity when their beauty is the reason I am there in the first place. Do I really have to add in the foreshortened branch, those are so hard! I don’t know if I’ve painted this one already, they’re so crowded. These long larch branches look awkward on paper. You’re kind of ruining this painting, long-awkward branch. 

It is as absurd. I’m impatient and I like to work symbolically, to illustrate.

I find it very uncomfortable to climb into and stay in the part of my brain that can work on direct observation. When I do the resulting paintings have a sense of breath that is compelling. But I’m drawn instead to make the place into a whimsical story—three trees growing together like old friends in a shroud of lichen on an island of unruly foliage in the middle of a meadow that was just like a fairy-tale bog.

Having an academic training in art I decided to make 100 paintings of trees and their surrounds from observation to develop my facility from which to tell these stories. Sometimes I forget and lapse into illustrating but have practiced more direct observation than naturally inclined.

Now I am almost done with the project. I finished the awkward larch and dawn redwood from Hoyt Arboretum in my studio with the help of a sketch and a photo. Now number 100 sits on my table as a silvery line drawing, fine as lace and waiting for paint.