Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Telescoping branches

Here's a painting of a tree I made this fall for a show at Old Lyme. This is a studio version of one I made outside. It is an 18 by 24. I thought as long as I was blogging about trees I should show a few of my own paintings of trees. Tonight I want to talk a little more about constant taper. Although trees have constant taper on a macro scale, on a micro scale there is another thing going on, telescoping. Here is another tree below and then a detail of the same tree.

Below is the detail.

Notice that the branch doesn't actually decrease much in size until it hits a joint where another branch leaves it, it THEN continues on, a little reduced in diameter. So it is like a telescope, formed of cylinders of decreasing size not an extremely elongated cone. In other words the branch grows along as a nearly uniformly diametered section almost like a section of pipe, until another branch leaves it, then it continues on in a reduced diameter like a second piece of pipe.

This is part of the reason why most trees have an angularity to their construction, this, section, joint, section construction effects the look of some species more than others, but most have some degree of it.

Tomorrow I will begin to describe branching behavior.There is a lot to this so I am paying it out one concept at a time. Its a little like math, each of these concepts is built upon the back of the last one. So if you don't understand it, read it again before you go on. If I haven't explained it well enough let me know in the comments.


Lisa McShane said...

Fantastic. Painting trees is on my list of goals this year. I was painting one today and thinking lots about joints, including opposite/alternate branching. This is helpful.

billspaintingmn said...

Might I say this is a most beautiful painting!? Stape, I just might tattoo "Stapleton Kerns" on
my neck.
(all upper case old english of course!)
Seriously though, this painting IS what I'm trying to achiave.
I promise I'll be good from now on.

Deborah Paris said...

Lovely painting Stape!

Unknown said...

well, yeah, that painting is quite lovely. Great color. Those warm shades are great. It looks similar to a place I tried to cross a stream in snowshoes and got stuck. (long story)
The telescoping concept is a great way to describe what's going on. I hadn't quite thought of it in those terms, though I had observed the
reality of that. It is always nice to have a handy nail to hang an idea on for easy reference. said...

Great tree. Great sky.Take a look at the sky , Will!I love yellow skies.

willek said...

"telescoping is a new one to me. Very descriptive. I should know about this after an intense botany course and after having heated my place with wood for so many years...

Your painting has great luminosity and ambiance.. Did the original reference have that warm sky? You really pushed the yellow on the right.

Marion... It is a forest fire sky, obviously.. right Stape? said...

Hi Everyone,
Stapleton, you can see by this exchange that Will and I have been having an ongoing discussion about where and how far you can push sky color to create atmospheric light. Your painting is a picture perfect example of what I am drawn to in landscapes. Deborah Paris also does this beautifully in her paintings. Will is more of a literal observationist (my own word here) than I am. And we are STILL friends

barbara b. land of boz said...

Oh WOW! Stapleton...Your use of color blows me away. I can walk right in and wade in this stream. All the while knowing that something special is waiting for me at the back tree line. A painting this "FINE" shows how hard you have worked to hone your skills. I knight thee Master Stapleton!!!! Very informtive post also.
barbara b "land of boz"

Philip Koch said...

Nice painting!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am going to talk a little about branching tonight.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. You will need a long neck on which to tattoo Stapleton Kearns in Old English. Wows about just STAPE in Helvetica?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks. I might be poaching on your territory there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks. There is a lot in the way an idea is expressed isn't there. I have heard someone state an idea in a way that made me rethink a concept I already new well.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

No I made that from a study I did on a clear blue day.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Marian 2

There is a whole post to be done on the range between the literal and the imagined and the pitfalls at either end of that spectrum.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Around the bend of that stream at that back treee line awaits an enormous and starving Geoduck,
as big as an airstream trailer.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks. It makes me feel old just to paint like that.

tom martino said...

That is indeed a wonderful painting; one senses a reserve, the peculiar restraint that nature displays in revealing color and atmosphere. We painters I hope I'm not alone in this!) tend to jump into the painting of nature without a structural grasp of what we are looking at. There is anatomy for the figurative painter, but the only source of knowledge about the wonderful subject of trees that I was aware of was The Artistic Anatomy of Trees by R.V. Cole. Your insights have motivated me to reread this !

Stapleton Kearns said...

Rex Vicat Coles book is excellent. I have read it aand some of what I am showing here I learned reading RV COLE. The language of the book is very dated, many of the species in the book exist only in England and about half of the book is not really useful to a painter though.
Carlson writes about trees also, but in a more theoretical way.