Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Our Trees, Autumn"

"Our Trees, Autumn" -- 20" x 16" -- Oil

"Color, composition, and lush paint were my focus as I painted." --- SFG


I based the painting on this photo taken in New Hampshire several years ago and Sergei Bongart's painting titled "Fall in Idaho, Kievtshina". Those of you who have his book may recognize it.

As I drew on the canvas with thinned paint, I was careful with the placement of the large tree since it dominates the painting. It would have been easy, but a big mistake, to place it in the middle. I needed something to come forward so I used the fence shadows, the curve of the driveway, and the mass at the lower right.

I shaped the dark masses, joining those I could and varying the greens from near-blues to reddish. I usually try to keep the color on the warm side in foliage since light filtering through a forest has many warm tones.

Here, I've added the hill in the background. Notice how important the abstract shapes are. They balance the painting and move the viewer's eye around. I did this very assertively. PAINT FEARLESSLY!

Always go for the big shapes. That large tree is not just a bunch of leaves that add up to a tree.

Now the canvas is covered with big shapes and clear value changes. From here to completion, I won't be painting a place. I'll be making a painting.

My palette at this point shows how I compare my colors as I mix them, keeping the lights together and the darks together, the warms together and the cools together. I didn't even think about it as I was mixing. It has become habit after all these years.

As I start to add details and accents, I decided that the repetitious fence shadows trapped the eye too much.

That's better in the foreground. I also decided to break the roofline of the shed by placing a tree in front of it. In the final version, shown at the top of this post, you'll see a few changes I made after I had signed it. I reshaped the top of the largest tree and broke the small but strong horizontal of the weeds in front of the shed. It attracted too much attention.


geri acosta said...

Hey, Susan: So glad I spotted this beautiful piece. How come it takes so long to hear the message?!
I was at Kurt Anderson's studio yesterday and was told the same thing once again that you kept beating into my head: "Don't loose your masses". He always complements me on my color at least.

Celeste Bergin said...

Your step by step is excellent! I liked watching the painting develop and the end result is beautiful!