Thursday, January 21, 2010
Reach for the Sky
That's what the Chestnut Oaks do, at the top of Shenandoah National Park, where we stay in a little cabin like the one pictured here each spring.
When you're under these lichen-covered trees in early spring they seem magnificent, tall and swaying in the wind, always attracting breeding and migrating songbirds: warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, flycatchers. They eat the tiny caterpillars that eat the newly emerging foliage as well as the moths that try to hide against the complexly colored bark.
Then I take a photo to capture this. Dullsville! Particularly the tallness of the trees seems to absolutely disappear. They look puny and uninteresting.
The watercolor, with white gouache, here is my first attempt to capture those trees in paint. I'm disappointed, I think particularly by the sense of scale. Putting the cabin smack dab in the middle of the painting wasn't smart either. The colors are disappointing though somewhat accurate.
But I do want to work more on trees, sky, foliage, because they're all an important part of the bird paintings that I do. This is a start in that direction.