May 12, 2017
These are just a few of the many reference photos I'm using for my new painting, which should be finished by next week. It's a 12x24 of a back woods marshy pond. My goal is to make it as realistic as possible, while still maintaining the soft colors of a hot, late afternoon day in the woods.
I have changed the water at least three times. Not easy, that H2O. In the beginning, I had a bull moose in the distance, feeding in the water, but after a few days of looking at it, it didn't feel right. Bye-Bye Moose. Then I spent a lot of time working on the trees, both live and dead, to get the randomness of the branches more, well -- random.
And the grasses. So many blades of grass, like a sea of misbehaving tentacles. How to make them real? How to get the color to look natural, the bend in their fragile stalks to seem as if a light wind is making them lean to the left or to the right. How to get the reflection of this grass to look believable in the dark water along the edges of the shoreline. In a still pond that is filled with algae, it should be so much darker, and more indistinct that if the water were clear.
Dead trees offer their own challenges. Not brown, not really gray. A mixture of the two to signify the passing of years and drying sun. Branches broken in odd ways; skeletal. And just how does an osprey's nest look from a distance?
Speaking of ospreys, should I add one? I wonder. I have, as you can see above, a good reference photo of one sitting at the top of some spiky tree. Since I have such a spiky dead tree in my painting, wouldn't it be logical to add the bird to go with it? Especially since that same tree is home to an osprey's nest? I debated this idea for a few days. Then, the osprey went the way of the moose. Too facile, was my thinking. Trite. I had also thought of adding a log full of sunning turtles. Nope. Too much detail in the foreground, as the focal point of the scene is in the background.
So many things to think about. But, since I want to have this piece finished within the next few days, I'll have to stop at some point and just say, "There. Done."