Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Carcass

Exploring in the Dark Corner

Yesterday's work on Johanssen's grandfather's house wasn't entirely dry this morning, so I opted, instead of creating problems for myself, to delve into one of my studio's dark corners.

I came across a grisaille that I did for a Saturday class last October. It was a chilly but beautiful day, and the remarkable ensemble of trees at Oak Hill Cemetery was resplendent in color.

I chose to start, though, on a grisaille of two huge beech trees, growing just a foot or two apart. I posted about it here.

Subsequently, I painted on it in the studio, capitalizing on the rich, transparent red oxide tint. I made a kaleidoscope of autumn colors to back up the trees, with a strong light effect passing diagonally behind the two beeches. 

It was just dreadful. In fact, it was a good bit beyond dreadful. Thus it found itself rightfully in the dark corner.

I noodled around with it for a while, trying to organize the riot of oranges and reds. It was hopeless. The situation called for a radical rethinking. Despite the fact that it's almost June, I felt that snow was required. Covering up the woodland setting with some ultramarine and white, I made a basic sky color (which trended toward green because of the wet warm colors already on the canvas---not so obvious in this photo).

As you can see, I left a line of  possible trees. This is all quite rough. The trees are not as 'beech-like' as I should wish. But the important thing is that all that orangey-yellow is gone, save for the few 'leaves' at the bottom, where the (yellow!) snow has melted.

As usual, I don't know where it's going. I show you these, as you know, to demonstrate that the way is not always straight. I encourage you, tomorrow being forecast as inclement near Boston, to find some abandoned start on which you may do a wholesale make-over.

For me, these exercises are quite relaxing, and they help me explore new avenues of problem solving.
The next problem is to figure out how to paint the bark so it doesn't look like a potato.

Of course I could go back and look at the real trees, which are certainly much blue-grayer. But that would be too adult.


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