Tree Study oil on panel, 12 x 16″
I’ve been working with a small group of summer students and the subject of painting trees came up. This wonderful subject, growing in an empty field on Diamond Head, was an ideal study. Graceful, mature shapes, rhythmic, and well separated from surrounding trees; we began using it as a model one morning, and I liked it enough that I decided to invest the time to get into it fairly deeply over the course of several subsequent visits.
One of the students asked me a great question: what I got out of pursuing an oil study when a sketch seemed sufficient. The more I think about it, I’d have to say “intimacy”.
The old painters were right…nature reveals herself gradually. You learn truths about the forms of nature this way, but not in a head-knowledge way, because that’s not helpful at all. It’s experienced. The closer you observe something, the more of it gets under your skin, where it’s useful. And from there, you eventually grasp what is unimportant about your subject as well.