Portraits of Nature Series #3: “Handful of Light”

"Handful of Light" 5x7" Acrylic.
“Handful of Light” 5×7″ Acrylic.

This is a Christmas Fern, something I saw often lining the sides of the Appalachian Trail.  The canopy is so thick it only allows pockets of light to get to the ground. The back lit fern leaflets reached up into those pockets and looked like they glowed.

Artist Note: I really had to push the opposites of both values and color to reach the “illuminated” look.  Maurice Shapiro does this so well in his skies. If you really want to reach an emotional level with color, go to his blog and look at his works.  You’ll learn.

About the “Portraits of Nature” series:
It seems like a simple concept to paint a tree, a rock or even a clump of grass. Just add a cotton ball to a stump and … TREE!! Right. Wrong. It’s the common perception of a tree, but it’s like a stereotype. What if it could tell it’s unique story? That’s what I aim to present: a portrait that tells the story. How can I do this? Nature doesn’t hide anything, but bears its marks on the outside, like looking into the eyes of someone you know. So let me fall silent and let these individuals of nature present themselves through this series.

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Portraits of Nature Series: #1, Old Stoic Cedar

 

"Old Stoic Cedar", 5x7 acrylic. Plein air study.
“Old Stoic Cedar”, 5×7 acrylic. Plein air study.

Hundreds of old cedar tree remnants line the sides of Stillhouse reservoir.   Walking along the shoreline today, I came to this tree around a bend standing tall above the lake and distant mesas.  Fishermen pass this tree all the time as do those hiking the shoreline from the Dana Peak Park area.  It time to meet this one.  I could see the bleached areas from sunlight and those with just a bit of tan remaining on the underside. A black ring around the base tells of a time when it stood with its roots submerged long enough to gain a thick coat of algae for years past.  As the water receded, the dirt washed out exposing the roots.  As I painted, I noted the twists in the roots and branches reaching out almost in a poetic motion, like it been gracing the shores like it’s dancing in the wind with beauty.

About the “Portraits of Nature” series:

It seems like a simple concept to paint a tree, a rock or even a clump of grass. Just add a cotton ball to a stump and … TREE!! Right. Wrong. It’s the common perception of a tree, but it’s like a stereotype. What if it could tell it’s unique story? That’s what I aim to present: a portrait that tells the story. How can I do this? Nature doesn’t hide anything, but bears its marks on the outside, like looking into the eyes of someone you know. So let me fall silent and let these individuals of nature present themselves through this series.

“Never Give Up”: Plein Air at Dana Peak Trails

A seemly dead, gray cactus produced a flower that seemed to say "Never give up!".
A  lifeless, gray cactus produced a flower that seemed to say “Never give up!”.

With another day to prepare for the future hike on the Appalachian Trail, I headed back out the my stomping grounds: Dana Peak Trails.   Around mile 7, I saw this grey, dead cactus by the trail that, unbelievably, had a stunning flower.  I passed on walking for a while, but it stuck in my mind as a perfect statement never to give up.  Even if everything around you seems dull, gray and lifeless, life shows us it’s not our job to say, “I quit”. Rather, this was a perfect display of how we can live.  We can love all of life, the bad with the good, and when those who we love most pass away, we can carry them with us, explore, adventure and live fully, as they would want us to. We honor them by “never giving up”.

This painting is dedicated to my good friend, Renee (“Tall Timbers” trail name).  Honor him with a full life, Renee. – Trance.

Grace Ranch Longhorn

A couple of weekend ago I was down helping Uncle Kenny at the ranch and taking photos of the longhorns as a reference for future paintings.  Seems like either they have their heads down, turn right as you take a photo or the lighting is off somehow.  Just as we were leaving, I spotted this longhorn in the oak grove with green winter rye and light coming sideways in the late afternoon.

Shot of the longhorn just as we were leaving
Shot of the longhorn just as we were leaving

I did this study of the longhorn which will go into helping produce a much larger painting from this photo reference.

10x8" Acrylic on canvas panel (www.theartbooth.com)
10×8″ Acrylic on canvas panel (www.theartbooth.com)

When this bull was young it was easy to pet, but now it just big enough to make you take a second look to make sure it’s approachable. The loose style of the background with slightly cool colors are meant to add emotion to the setting and a mysterious questioning feeling to his pose.