Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Waterways Project: Young Trees
These young trees growing in the frequently- flooded areas of the Des Plaines River look like leggy, awkward adolescents. They are not old enough to have acquired the character found in really old trees. And yet, I admire their ability to grow quickly and send out stable roots. They have survived and grown under the harsh conditions of flooding and drought. Their roots remain soggy for many months of the year. Smaller seedlings are washed away and some really big trees topple under these mucky conditions.
Expressing this quality of tenacity has been a challenge. I’ve been reading “A Painterly Approach” by Mary Beth McKinzie. Her advice on painting human limbs is to avoid a long brush stroke that parallels the length of the arm or leg. Rather, use sideways brush strokes to build up the form: build up its cylindricality as you create the form. I’ve tried this out with these young trees. I ended up making them fatter than they really are but I like the idea of cracking my pastel stick and using its side to brush in the rounded shape of the trees.
Every media has its strengths and weaknesses. I love the ease of building up painterly surfaces when using oil pastels and the fact that I don’t have to use turps. But its limitation is color choice. It’s hard to paint spontaneously when you constantly have to blend colors to achieve the proper effect. We have been having a discussion on this in the Oil Pastel Forum over at Wet Canvas. Soft pastels, being so much more popular than oils at this time, have a HUGE selection of colors. What’s missing from the oilies is a selection of great neutral lights and darks. We have started a campaign of letter writing to try to prod the manufacturers to broaden their color selection. Here are some addresses for any of you oil pastelists out there who wish to add your voice.
Caran D'ache http://www.carandache.ch/