Quick Plein Air Sketch of a Conifer Tree

Damaged Conifer Tree

I took a quick moment while temperatures were mild, to step outside and scout for a single tree to paint.  I chose this conifer tree, because I still haven’t solved the problems of needles vs. leaves when I’m “faking it” en plein air.  I loved the damaged bark in the upper ranges of this tree, recording storms from the past, and etching character across the face of this portrait.  I’m starting to get the hang of tree bark, both in texture and color, and have found a satisfying way of blending graphite with watercolor as I render the textures of the bark.  As to the pine needles, I’ll still have to find a way.  It hasn’t happened yet.

I would have loved to talk to the landowner of this single tree on his property, but have serious questions over whether or not he has even noticed it among the hundreds that cover the acreage.  I recently came across this non-judgmental sentiment recorded by Henry David Thoreau in the nineteenth century when he penned his book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers:

(he was speaking of the men of Concord who worked their lands):   . . . greater men than Homer, or Chaucer, or Shakespeare, only they never got time to say so; they never took to the way of writing.  Look at their fields, and imagine what they might write, if ever they should put pen to paper.  Or what have they not written on the face of the earth already, clearing, and burning, and scratching, and harrowing, and ploughing, and subsoiling, in and in, and out and out, and over and over, again and again, erasing what they had already written for want of parchment.

Farmers and property owners scratch the surfaces of their land, I only scratch the surfaces of paper (and as a teacher, occasionally the surface of someone’s mind, perhaps).  Throughout my life, I have made little contribution to real estate, but have tried from time to time to reproduce its wonders on paper, as I try again this day.  And in that endeavor, I do find great satisfaction.

Thanks for reading.


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