Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tree Stump of Platte Clove

I found that I really enjoyed making paintings of forest interiors during my stay in the Catskill Mountains. I was amazed at some of these trees that grew on the ledges and cliffs near the waterfalls. Their Roots seemed to grow wrap around anything it could to sink itself into position.

Burnt Umber Wash Drawing

With this painting I started as I often do with a Burnt Umber Wash Drawing. I threw on the basic gesture of the stump and worked on articulating the smaller roots later on. 

Shaping the Wash Drawing
I drew in the stump using two brushes and Mineral Spirits. One brush contained the oil paint to put on the panel and an other clean brush with mineral spirits to carve away wet paint and shape the drawing. 

Premixing Color

I did a great deal more premixing of my pigments in this painting. I made many different varieties of brown for the roots of the tree. I made mixtures of green/brown for the sun facing parts of the tree. Yellow/brown made up much of the lighter values of the stump. I noticed that as the roots entered the ground they abruptly became a warmer red/brown. As the shape of the roots rolled and turned into the shadows the browns became very much neutral. So to save my self time and extra labor premixing became very usefully.

Applying Color

I very thoughtfully and carefully applied my color choices paying much attention to the forms I encountered. In this painting I didn't want to have to come back and repaint any of the areas a second time. I had only one afternoon to work on this painting so what ever information I could gather had to be accurate. 

As I'm painting I am constantly checking and reworking my drawing. My goal was to capture as much of a likeness without driving myself completely crazy. The one thing I noticed about working on a painting piece by piece is that I had to constantly reel myself back from rushing to the next section. Patience is definitely the key to better painting. 

Painting the Ground floor

After Painting in much of the roots the stump seemed to be floating in air. I felt at this time it was a great opportunity to put in the ground floor. I started by applying a glaze of Burnt Umber and painting into it with various mixtures of Burnt umber, Burnt Siena, Yellow Ocher and White. After sections of the ground floor where completed I could then paint green foliage springing out of the earth.

The Final Study

I had added a neutral grey to bring out the forms of the stump. If I had another day with this painting I would had loved to paint in the entire scene. As a study for some foreground element in a larger studio painting this will suffice.

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