I just sent off a submission for Willow Studio’s annual “Branching Out” exhibition…all about trees. There are trees all over my Park series, so, thinks I, this should be pretty easy to put together. New work needed, given that pretty much everything I’ve painted in the last year is out on exhibit this month, but no problem, right?
Thinking specifically about trees changed the focus, from “me in the great outdoors” to, well, just “the great outdoors”…and, yikes, I couldn’t do it. Weeks of false starts and frustration went by. I looked and looked at the many and varied trees I pass everyday, and though there should have been a ton of material to paint from, nothing worked.
Then I figured it out. On a very crisp late autumn morning — one of the last cycling days before winter — I rode underneath a venerable old black poplar right on the edge of the Elbow River (I do have a lovely commute, lucky me) and, as I had been doing pretty much every day, looked up into its branches. Before I was blinded by the piercing fall sun I was struck by the familiarity of the pattern of the tree against the blue blue blue sky. And there it was. I knew this tree. It was my friend. Just like that, I’d made a connection. And now I could paint it, because I was back to where I love to be, making paintings about, yep, being human in the natural world.
So I went to the studio, mused a bit in my journal, and made a painting. Easy.