Saturday, April 30, 2011

End of April

Suddenly it is the end of April. Painting took a back seat to gardening most of this month. We had a new fence put in to keep the deer out and the dog in - at the back anyway. The newly fenced back garden gave a place to move all the "deer-candy" plants (that used to be protected from deer on our upstairs deck or hidden in the front garden) into the back garden. It also meant moving what we think might be "deer-proof" plants into the front garden. That was a lot of digging and moving and it all needed to be done while the plants were preparing to burst into life - but before the actually did. At the same time, I tried to clean up the newly sprouting weeds and all the fallen branches and fir cones. I spent days grovelling in the dirt and loved every minute of it.

But for the past week I have been working on my painting of a maple tree in Linley Valley. It's at the top of this blog. I am trying to capture a big leaf maple just beginning to burst into life in the mid-April sunshine. The early flowers look like a golden-green halo in the dark green woods. I took the photo I am using as an inspiration a few years a go. It is tough to paint because I am not that good at trees and forests are so complicated. Do you try and put in every twig and leaf or just give a suggestion? Obviously a suggestion is better - but it has to be accurate. You can't have some nice fir branches up at the top of the painting without something further down suggesting the trunk. Then - what is around the trunk. Ferns, moss, salal, huckleberries, dead trees ... Emily Carr abstracted to a green swirl - almost like water - but I haven't tried that yet.

Strangely, the moment I was trying to capture when the maple leaves burst into the sky has now past for 2011. I think it only lasted a day - about 2 weeks ago. Now the leaves grow larger everyday and the halos are now getting quite dense and tree-like.

I spent 3 shifts working at NAC and part of the time I looked long and hard at my VIU Forestland painting where it hung on the wall. I concluded several things - lack of contrast is still a problem, the light in the forest should be at the end of the road (I think) rather than at the centre of the painting, the green background trees should be on the left as well as the right, it should be a bit more twiggy. I am going to revise my painting to make these changes and when I do I will rename it "Path to Ammonite Falls."

A woman came into NAC while I was there and we had a bit of a chat. I told her I was planning to modify my painting and she said - authoritatively- that I couldn't. The painting had been displayed and I would have to start again if I wanted to make it different. Well - hmmm- I disagreed - politely. It's my painting and I can do what I want with it. If it had received an award I would agree it was finished - but since it didn't - it must be a work in progress. So I will try to make those changes and see how it looks.

One thing I have learned - you can't know if a painting is finished until you have lived with it for awhile. No-one can tell you it is done.

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