It all started when I saw a recent post by one of my high school classmates from a long time ago. He posted on Facebook about his wonderful Magnolia tree that suddenly died over the winter.
I was inspired by both the story and the photograph and asked him if I could paint his tree. He was excited about the idea and wanted to see what I would do with the tree.
So, taking the story of the tree that just happened to drop all its foliage and blooms, and die, and the idea that this tree was very special to him, I began the creation, not knowing where it really as going to go! But I did know that I wanted the tree to be immortalized with beauty and grace.
Below are many of the stages of the tree and its transformations as my thought process unfolded, and if you can follow me through the photos and the verbage, you just might get a glimpse into my process of creating.
Photo #1 above shows how I begin my art when it is referenced from real life, making certain that the proportions and size are correct. I have found that because I generally paint large, that a painting this size of 24×36″ I would run out of space if I did not do that.
Photo #2 is the beginning of the painting, using the photo taped to the side of my canvas as a guide while I am blocking in where the tree will be.
Photo #3 I see a faerie or an angel and get excited about the painting. Now I am beginning to understand what drew me toward the photo of this tree. And it is now becoming a “she” to me, making her more special to me. Yellow as a sun for her wings.
Photos #4 and #5 are progress photos where the trees branches seem to droop but many have developed hands that are reaching out to the heavens. It is now that I put the reference photo away and let the painting tell me where it is going. (Yes, I am a process painter…remember me telling you that?…so the painting becomes whatever direction it wants to as I work on it!)
Photo #6 shows brush strokes in the sky of different colors of blues. I painted these vigorously with energy to give the tree some energy that has been emitted by herself.
Photos #7 through #9 are more progress photos of the tree as she developed. This is the first stage that I feel positive about the painting and where it is going to go, how the tree will develop. Now I just had to make it happen. She needed to be graceful, surrounded by her blooms and foliage, and be ready to be taken away by the angel.
I made the green ground and realized that it was too heavy for this delicate beauty, and then I corrected the coloring for a more light and bright feeling. As the background had strokes, I added palette knife texture to the lower part of the painting in both the sky and the ground. Then my thoughts were that somehow she still needed her flowers around her that were dropped off her branches, so I added pinks and greens drifting in small strokes to the sky and ground. All along creating this painting, I did not know if or how I was going to depict the blooms that she lost, until I painted them.
My “signature” in my trees is to hide figures within the tree. In this one the central figure of the angel or faerie is very obvious, so the others are well concealed. I also drew the details on top of my painting which is another thing that defines my work.
I hope you enjoyed these progress notes. I would have liked to have gone into more detail but this post would be very long, so I am letting the pictures tell most of the story.