24 x 30 in | 61 x 76.2 cm
The Red Pine was named for the red cast of its bark. To capture these colors I painted this group from a close perspective. A close up view of the bark reveals at least half a dozen shades of orange and rust colors. I used Cadmium Orange, and six different iron oxides to produce the rusty colors. The sunshine was critical to bringing out these colors, but so was the young age of these trees. The lower trunks of old Red Pines turn grey, their reddish bark appearing only at the top.
These trees were in a completely natural area. Had they been near a camping ground, all of the dead lower branches would have been snapped off for firewood, depriving me of a feature that added greatly to the composition. The branches were jagged, traversed with deep fissures, spotted with algae, and their smooth exposed wood reflected the colors below. They added variety and unpredictability to the composition.
The smaller branches and twigs near the bottom of the panel served an equally useful role in the composition. They obscured the lower quarter to keep the viewer’s gaze in the center of the painting. Ansell Adams, the great nature photographer, recommended darkening the lower part of a photograph to keep the eye of the viewer from wandering off the picture. A complex network of twigs serves the same function.
The Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) is a tree of the northern United States. Most of its range is around the great lakes or above. Red Pines reach down to the eastern mountains of the U.S. only as far as Pennsylvania, with one exception. They are also found in Jefferson National Park at the border of Virginia and West Virginia.