"When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe."~Henri Matisse
The Red Toque, oil on canvas, 60"x40" is the product of a bit of serendipity. My friend Gayle and I were out walking around her property (trust me, it is sublime there). I had been sitting on a nearby rock when she paused up ahead. I looked up and there she was, standing, framed by the space of sky and trees. I said "freeze!" or something to that effect. I preceded to take many many pictures of her in that space and time, from different angles, to see what worked best. I love the hat, a hat which has appeared in many paintings. I also loved her mittens...so very Canadian to me for some reason.
This painting is arguably one of my more uplifting ones. Most of my work leans more to the contemplative and perhaps even melancholic. This piece inspires me. I look at it and think, "everything will be all right". In moments of doubt I like I look at it and my heart lightens a little bit. I also love that I can still feel the cold air from the day, the great company with Gayle, and the feeling deep inside that a good painting would be the result of our walk in the woods.
Here is another example of how much fun it is to paint trees. I tackled the sky and trees by painting the background blue, with some atmospheric perspective in the colours first. I set it aside and waited for it to try. When it was dry I went in and added the trees. Upon close examination the trees, like a lot of my renderings, are very simply executed. Again, my philosophy of "less is more" when approaching brushwork applies here. If I can convey the "treeness" of the tree, the feeling of the tree and it's general likeness with 3 tones, why use 25? I am not a hyperrealist...it is that bridge between the abstract and the real that I seek. Trees are tricky...finding that amount of detail but still leaving it more impressionistic perhaps in the farther areas. Again I reiterate how much fun it is to paint trees without leaves! Simple, stark and moody.
Her jeans were tricky because again, the drying of the pigment would dry lighter than I had applied it. It necessitated a re-examining of the colours and reapplying until it dried to the appropriate value.
I see this piece as a bit of a silver lining painting. Gayle's gaze and body posture seem to offer a feeling of hope or at least curiosity about what lies ahead, literally and figuratively.
On a side note, many thanks to those of you who watched The Artist's Life on Bravo! Channel. I wish it was broadcast everywhere but it is only shown in Canada. Thank-you for your great feedback!
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ~ Thoreau, Walden