This painting was begun before I went to Colorado in June and was based on field work I did last year in June. I had gotten it to a point and was really stuck, so the trip came at a good time enabling me to revisit the motif and refresh both memory and inspiration.
Last June I worked most of the time in a lovely aspen grove near my cabin. I did numerous drawings of individual aspen trees as well as ponderosa pines (which I posted here and here) and some motif drawings as well. But I did not really follow up on any of them until a few months ago. The idea came from a desire to revisit the subject but also the fact that I had been looking at the work of Emil Carlsen quite a bit. I was intrigued with his backgrounds and how he was able to create something that was at once atmospheric but also had some very definite decorative qualities and a flatter picture plane.
So, my idea here was to not follow my usual method of creating a background with multiple layers of scumbles applied with rags but to use more of a dry brush approach with more texture and opacity, but to try to make it read simultaneously as "air" but also decorative and somewhat flat. At the same time I wanted to continue with the challenge of face lit subjects and to also play with the idea of volume and flatness in those forms.
Aspen Grove Interior
39 x 33
Oddly, the "experimental" part of the painting seemed to go fairly well and I was happy with that part after a couple of passes. Here are a few details.
But, the part that should have been easy- the foreground grasses- just would not come together. I had originally envisioned some dappled sunlight in this area but every configuration I tried ended up detracting from the "main event", so eventually, when I returned from my trip I eliminated it. As a result I repainted the foreground about 6 times. Luckily, although I lost the transparency as a result, the layers and shifts in temperature (which this image doesn't capture very well) made up for it. The more simple "light shade" of the foreground seemed a better fit for the image.