Stand patiently for a few moments and get rewarded with brilliance.
There’s a ten, maybe fifteen minute window most afternoons to catch the waning sunlight shining through the trees in Prospect Park. In late November, when I observed the old Austrian pine with the ballfields in the background, the special witching hour is around 3:45pm. The landscape heats up with fiery colors and the clouds take on deeper rose and gold tones. The tree bark and needles glow with red and rust. Arrive too early and the colors are nice and sunny; arrive too late and shadows and darkness take over. Ah, but stand patiently for a few moments…observe the movement of shadows and the change of light…and get rewarded with brilliance.
The old pine and sky was fun to paint, even as I decided to throw in several creative challenges for inspiration. I opted to paint big, and in order to reach some of the paper I needed to paint areas of the image upside down. I discovered a neat technique using a favorite new brush and a palette knife to trick out all those pine needles, though I might never have to use that again. This was the first painting I’ve done on a sheet of Arches hot press paper, and while the smooth surface was perfect for all those pine needles, I missed the rougher texture of the cold press I am used to. The surface felt too much like illustration board and not sensual enough. My typical palette runs the gamut of the quinacridone and dioxazine pigments which were perfect for this subject. The names sound quite pharmaceutical, but the colors are intense: red, rust, purple. Add gamboge and permanent alizarin crimson to the mix and rich warm browns result. Blues on my palette range from cobalt blue, phthalo blue, ultramarine, cobalt turquoise light, and anthraquinone blue and were used with hansa yellow deep to mix greens when needed. Most of the colors are from M. Graham.
And so ends 2016, a most strange and unsettling year, with a painting to recall all the colors that are waiting to be discovered.
Arches hot press, 300 lb, 21″ x 21″