abstract acrylic painting of trees in woods

What’s On My Easel? Saplings, Acrylic on Canvas

abstract acrylic painting of trees in woods

“Saplings” where I stopped after my first painting session.

I took a photo of saplings along the creek in early spring along the Panhandle Trail. The straight lines of the saplings and varied colors and widths and patterns with the light behind them, and even a bit of the creek, immediately appeared to me as a larger painting, but abstracted. I just wanted to capture the colors and the pattern the young trees made.

Above is the current state of the painting. Below is the first draft of it, kind of loose, finding my way, and getting used to acrylic paint again.

abstract acrylic painting of trees in woods

Getting started!

I worked more detail into that draft and cleaned up edges. I wanted to keep with the very vertical nature of the trees and let the background provide a contrast.

abstract acrylic painting of trees in woods

Working the trees against the background.

Then I decided I’d try the patterns on a few of the trees, not entirely sure I wanted that because it might distract from that vertical pattern, but there’s only one way to find out, do it.

abstract acrylic painting of trees in woods

Adding some of the patterns on the trees.

At that point I realized that all the trees are leaning to the left and it’s really obvious that it’s my right-handed bias, and my trifocals that always skew things close up when I’m working on something large and don’t step back to look often enough. After this, I went back over the trees and straightened them out.

abstract acrylic painting of trees in woods

“Saplings” where I stopped after my first painting session.

I’m stopping in to look at it while I make some decisions.

I do like the patterns on the trunks, but muted, and I need to work out the colors of the trunks again, much more muted.

I’m not sure I want the water at the bottom. I do and I don’t. I like the contrast of complementary colors, but what I always visualized was just the vertical pattern. That’s when it was time to be done for the day.

Why “Saplings”?

I don’t know why this one was the next in line after similar “Forest Bathing”, but it was. And in part because I’ve just painted almost a dozen pastels counting several book cover illustrations, and I don’t want to get stale with it. I’ve been wanting to work on my acrylic painting skills and I felt I was ready for this one—plus, in my stock of inherited art materials I have plenty of earth-toned acrylic paints and brushes of all sizes and qualities, and a conveniently blank 18″ x 24″ stretched canvas.

I had actually wanted to use a bunch of small painting panels and canvases to work out my acrylic painting on little still lifes and scenes around the house. But I knew I’d have to work out the brushwork on something larger first, to loosen up. I hold pastels in my fingers and I blend with my hands, it’s very direct. I’m glad for this time on this big painting for that reason.

Works in progress

I haven’t taken much time to post works in progress because I often don’t have much extra time and I’d prefer to spend it painting. Time was I had a painting on the easel or something creative happening all the time, but through the years of caring for family members and just being self-employed as older customers retired and the need to replace that income I’ve been scattershot at best, painting for exhibits but not much in between.

But with more time and my new energy for creating all sorts of new artwork I’ve been able to spend consistent time in my studio. I’ve actually surprised myself at showing up in the studio nearly every day to work on whatever’s on my easel or table, and finish it, then move on to the next. That’s been hard to accomplish for so long; I’m accustomed to putting the art last, after all the other stuff is done.

Now, however, I’m able to hop into the studio during my best time of day for artwork, through the afternoon. That’s my most creative time of day and I’m rested and fed and can focus for an hour or sometimes many more to follow the visualization I have in my mind, often one that’s waited there for years. Also, I’m never happy working with any lights I have on my easel, both the tone of the lights and the light itself. I’ve looked at paintings in the morning and not only were many colors wrong, but it was way too contrasty with just natural daylight.

Painting “Saplings” en plein air in my studio…

To mimic as much of the plein air experience as I could I opened the photo on my studio computer’s large screen and actually look at it from a distance and at an angle that I might see it outdoors. I also think about the sounds and weather and all sorts of things I’d be experiencing if I was outdoors, even going back to the folder from the date I took that photo to see what the rest of the area looked like, perhaps even what I wore if I caught my feet or hand in a photo. That way I catch the elements of the scene that are most striking similar to the way I would if I was there for real,

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One thought on “What’s On My Easel? Saplings, Acrylic on Canvas

  1. Pingback: Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail, August 25 and 26 - Portraits of Animals

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