03 September 2008

coast cypresses

watercolor on arches CP, 600 gsm, 42" x 29".

i began this painting in 2002 and finished it this week. for five years i have kept the porcelain dishes of dried out paints used in the painting, and carefully transferred the painting from one hanging and one storage to another. today i framed the painting and hung it in our great room and i have finally cleaned out those dishes. my thanks to nick simmons for insisting i get back to it.

i'm an admirer of the late 18th century style of tinted watercolor, for example as perfected in the works of francis towne and john cotman. i kept to the drawing as closely as feasible, and in several places accented or cleaned up the drawing with charcoal pencil. there is very little modeling of form, and complex textures are mostly confined to the grassy bank.

my original interest was in the interlacing branches, a remarkable image of tree community, even though i eliminated about half the branches that appear in the original photo document. i also eliminated all the shadows. i did not want a crisp light concept and the bewildering tesselation of shadows and branches that a strong light rendering would create; instead i wanted the trees to stand as distinct but intertwined figures. i played a violet scale across the tree trunks to define the spatial contrasts between foreground and background trees, and darkened the sky to suggest early morning.

i have never persisted with an unfinished painting for this long. the only reason i did so was because of the enormous work i had already put into it -- the underdrawing alone took two or three hours. it's not my favorite painting, but it is very gratifying to see it finally finished.

4 comments:

Brent Perkins said...

Wonderfully rendered trees. I'm partial to trees; your figure pieces are outstanding.

Nick said...

And a fine piece of Californialia it is...easy to get swept up in the motion, and I like the pink tones - so subtle but there. Bravo Bruce!

David Burge said...

Good.

Carol Carter said...

i really love this piece. it is SO California...