Dead Tamarack Swamp Painting

Oil on Mason board (Completed) 2.10.11

This is probably my first mature attempt at realism.  I feel my biggest mistake in painting is putting too much faith in myself.  I use no references, no photos, just imagination, and that can get me into a whole mess of trouble.  However, this is the first time I was able to paint in a quiet, calm atmosphere, with a clear thought processes, with the motivation to make a truly realistic work. 

 I usually just paint from a single idea, even from a sketch or two.  My paintings tend to are usually abstract and expressionistic,but this semester i wanted to try something more mature.  I’ve always had this fascination of trees and I always wanted to paint realistic dream-like trees that only I know about, that only I see in my mind.  I feel that this is an okay start. 

Some elements work, others don’t.  I feel the colors are spot on, the texture is good, and the concept is interesting.  I do not like the branch in the font, nor do I like the composition.  More planning and sketching in the future will fix composition.  As for the branch, it’s very small and thin to paint.  I don’t think I have a brush quite right for that, nor do I have a steady hand to paint it.  I was just looking for something to make the painting a little more interesting, something to pull the focus into the center.

The process was actually quiet interesting.  I discovered by combining house paint primer and sawdust, I could apply a thicker, denser, and more textured base for this piece.  I started splattering green paint on top while it was still wet, then i rubbed it into the primer with my hands.  I love when I can just plop my hands into some paint.  I feel better connected to my work, like i cant shape it easier and get better results for backgrounds as opposed to using brushes.  I don’t know, the end product always seems more interesting.  After the primer i dried I decided that yellow ochre was my new favorite color.  I began drawing vertical lines and dabbing in some rough shapes, until it seemed to take the shape of a tree.  The colors and shape reminded me of a dead tamarack swamp along a specific freeway in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, up around St. Germain. After that, it was just a matter of layering, highlighting, and shadowing.   The entire painting took about 6 days to complete, and it’s still drying.  I hope to frame it when it does dry.

I’m not satisfied with the work, it doesn’t quite feel complete, but I will leave it before I start messing it up, like I tend to do with my paintings.


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