24 x 24 in | 61 x 61 cm
I enjoy painting trees in bright sunshine, especially when they are back lighted. Leaves glow with dramatic colors when the sun shines through them. The problem with bright sun is that it washes out the colors in the shiny parts and obscures the colors in the shadows. Photographers call this condition “high contrast”. Rainy days produce the opposite effects. The range and saturation of colors are enhanced on rainy days.
Among the rainbow of fall colors there are few as saturated as the red leaves of Cherry trees. Notice the spectrum of colors near the tips of each branch, blending from red at the bottom through maroon and ochre to bright green at the tops. I don’t know why but the tips of the branches are the last to turn red, so they stand out against the red background. I love discovering these little details.
My friends, who invited me on this walk near their home, were disappointed in the weather until they heard me gushing about the colors. Rainy day painting reminds me of two frequently asked questions. The first is, “Do you paint in the field, Plein Aire, even when it’s driving rain, freezing, or blowing sand?” And the follow-up question is, “Can you paint from a picture?” The answer to both questions is “no.” I have been able to capture the subtle effects and feeling of a scene through pictures but not from a single picture and not from someone else’s picture. I find that only if I take many pictures, and only if I have been at the scene myself, can I capture the moment. I need an array of pictures—overexposed, underexposed, zoomed in, zoomed out, and some representing changes in the angle and depth of field—and I need my own experience of the place to put it all together.
These Black Cherry Trees (Prunus serotina) are new colonists in an abandoned farm in Ontario.