Musing with Cezanne: Focus on the Pine

There would be other trees, but his first love was the pine. For Cezanne, the pine itself was a lieu de memoire, a memory place, redolent with mythology, packed with history, and charged with feeling. 

Alex Danchev, Cezanne: A Life

cezanne pine

Cezanne, “Large Pine and Red Earth”

This Large Pine and Red Earth is more than a tree: it is a personality. It is also a vision. Cezanne painted the treeness of the tree, as Kandinsky said. The branches are twisted or contorted; the foliage shimmers.

Alex Danchev, Cezanne: A Life

pine photo

This is my third consecutive summer at Riverbend Resort in South Fork, Colorado. I have been coming to this place since 1999, but am now on my sixth visit. My favorite place to reside is the Brookie Cabin with this view from the deck overlooking the stream. And every year, my time has been divided deliciously between fly fishing in the stream and plein air painting from this deck.

In 2016, I spent every sunrise on this deck, with fresh coffee, reading essays from Martin Heidegger and translating Greek Pre-Socratic fragments. Every time I looked up from my reading, I was smitten with this rugged pine in front of me, the rusty-red texture of its bark, and its needles against a hazy mountain backdrop. Finally, I attempted a 5×7″ plein air watercolor sketch of it. Liking what I saw, I framed and matted it, and before I knew it, the painting had become the property of someone else. In all my years, I have never regretted a sale, but in the two years passing, I have regretted letting this one go.

pine 2016

And so it happens, I’ve been reading this Cezanne biography, and learned that the pine was his favorite tree, for many of the same reasons that I have been so smitten with this solitary Colorado pine from the past three summers. As is my custom, I’ve spent nearly every morning on the Brookie deck this visit, with my coffee and books, and have decided to give this painting another try.

pine me

I have spent the past two mornings working on this 9×12″ plein air composition. I always quit once the sun gets high enough that the bark loses its intense color. When painting en plein air, I usually work quickly, completing an 8×10″ composition within the hour. But this one is different. Like Cezanne, Leonardo da Vinci, and Willem de Kooning, I am now spending many minutes between brushstrokes, and often laying the painting on the deck floor to look at from time to time while reading and sipping coffee. I guess you could say I am composting. This painting is coming along very slowly, but every layer, every brushstroke, and every pencil stroke is studied. And I am greatly enjoying this process.


Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


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8 Responses to “Musing with Cezanne: Focus on the Pine”

  1. Joyce Rury Says:

    Hang onto this one!!


  2. alethakuschan Says:

    Fabulous! I say this as a big Cezanne fan. He did know and love the pine tree. He was the tree’s special and perhaps most appreciative fan! You’re exploring great visual territory. And your paintings are wonderful.


    • davidtripp Says:

      You are so nice, thank you! A real highlight of this vacation was the Cezanne biography. I had so many questions about him over the years and am so fulfilled to learn what I have from this marvelous text.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. artbyeileen Says:

    Absolutely beautiful. I think any subject matter we feel so connected to the work and our intuitive understanding of the subject matter tends to just flow. I hope you hung on to this one, its lovely!


  4. Dian Darr Says:

    I think you are channeling Cezanne! The pines in the Cezanne painting you showed could have been painted in Colorado. You and he now have a special bond!! Don’t forget, I want a copy of this one. I have so many emotions and memories all jumbled together about our time in Colorado.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you, Dian! The Colorado memories will always stir me deeply within. Cezanne’s legacy is definitely having its impact on me, and now as I try to puzzle out these complex issues of blue in the compositions, I’ll continually look to him for guidance. Thank you for responding to this.


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