Here is a painting I have showed you before, but I wanted to show something of mine that had snow, and trees in it. There is something about that photo, it looks better at some angles on my screen than others, you may have to scrunch down or sit up a little more for it to look its best. I haven't any idea why.
I wanted snow in the picture because I want to remind you that there are several spaces left in each of the snowcamp workshops. I had one filled, so I scheduled a second, and then several people from the first filled workshop moved to the second. So there are a couple of slots open in each. I am sure you remember the post where I described the inn, and you can see that here.
I am continually restrained by what I can readily teach in medium of the blog, I am not complaining, its amazing what can be done. The reach of this medium is extraordinary. However there are a lot of things that it doesn't do as well, either because I have to show something in real time, with nature next to it, or I have to tailor what I say to an individuals need. I can't for instance, teach drawing very well on the net. I can teach the ideas of drawing, but I can't sit next to a student and say, you have got the side of that house too blue and the line of that roof looks off to me. Some things must be taught one on one, I think. There are things that I can show you in the field that I am unable to type into my laptop and post. I know its inconvenient to leave home sometimes and there is some expense, but I can save you years of screwing around, try me. Heres the sign up page.
I am going to begiin writing about painting trees, I am writing this organically, that is, rather than writing it all, shuffling it into the best order and then publishing it, I am writing and publishing a piece each day. I hope it comes out in an orderly fashion, but my guess is it won't, so bear with me. Some day this will be a book and then I can go back through it and in hind sight see better how it should have been presented.
The picture above is about evenly divided between snow and trees. Most landscape paintings (except in some desert places, or urban scenes) are tree paintings. There must be about a dozen or more different trees in that painting going from left to right. Every single one is different. Some are pines, some are birches, some lean one way, and some another. They have different volumes and are different colors.
But they all are observed, and they all are simplified. There is usually way to much shrubbery and twig haze out there. If I put every stick and branch in I am going to to get a cluttered and obsessive look. The old saying you can't see the forest for the trees is a good warning for the landscapist. You want to characterize the interesting and the essential and "prune" out the repetitive and the unnecessary.
Here is a Hibbard , look how few branches there are on those trees, just enough to carry the story, if he had put in none, it wouldn't have been believable, but he has stripped them way back. If you go look at most of Carlsons work here and here you will see the same thing. Can we call it branch control? I was with a friend once who was painting a big many branched tree that stood on its own at the edge of a field. He was having a hard time with it and lamented that it looked like a goddamned octopus.
So lesson one of the tree series is this, branch control. You have to simplify trees (and almost everything else ) to paint them well. In order to do this, it is good to have some idea of their structure and how they are built. I will begin a series of posts on that tomorrow.