Trees are my friend and my foe in the studio. I am almost always working on a tree, trying to find the secret that gives them their magic. Usually my success rate is about 1 out of every 100. Seriously. So I've decided instead of tossing everything and starting a bonfire, I would share some of my latest meanderings in painting the elusive tree.
Why are they so difficult? I think it's because they have so many parts that I think I know and understand until I try to put them down with paint. Then they whisper " you don't know me at all" . And so I try again. And the only time I'm successful is when I can be completely in the process, not stressed about getting it " right".
I find when I can forget I'm painting a tree, I begin to see connections between portrait or figure painting. Trees each have their own personality and expression. They are filled with shifting light, color, and value. They have a lyrical aspect that must be painted as a whole, not broken into parts. A slight misinterpretation of the angle of a limb or a heavy handed approach can snuff out its graceful beauty and result in an addition to the discard pile.
So I'm going to keep painting them, keep trying new approaches, maybe go and see if any of my old discarded friends can be saved, and continue to be surprised when something turns out which I think captures an element of their personality.