The first strokes are always the hardest, no matter that I’ve painted the subject previously. The question is how will I take everything I’ve learned and find a new way to reveal the spirit of the place. Will I focus on botanical and geological detail, or concentrate on the energy and movement, my feelings in the place? Into the Woods – Joyful May definitely takes the latter approach, and is based on the wonder and joy I felt encountering spring in one of my favorite places. The soil, what little there is, barely supports mature trees. But the trees keep growing anyway. Saplings abound, and even though the older trees are stunted in their growth, they are still beautiful and productive. The stony outcrops make walking in these woods a trick, but oh it is so worth the effort! Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I rolled a mixture of dark browns and greens onto the panel, scraping, dabbing, and lifting the paint while it was wet, working to create a range of gestures and textures. When the base layer was dry, I started to refine the image by “pulling out” the negative shapes of sky, glazing selectively, and beginning to define he major tree forms. When the image started to tighten up, I employed a soft rubber roller to apply paint in loose patches, providing a sense of energy and movement to the trees. Additional layers of loose brushwork suggested the tumult of branches and leafy growth. Some spatter, with re-rolling and glazing, provided visual interest and, perhaps unconsciously, injected a touch of pollen.
A slightly earlier painting from another location at Purgatory Chasm, In the Heart of the Woods, depicts a portion of the gorge walk and shows why it is so difficult for trees to gain purchase in the thin soil and granite uplifts.