Archive for December, 2014

Painting the Personality of a Tree

December 30, 2014
Ski Town print from Shimmertown shop, KG TaylorSkier in the Woods, print from Shimmertown shop, KG Taylor

Ski Town print from Shimmertown shop, KG Taylor. Click images for large view.

I love pine trees, and feel thankful to live around them here in Colorado. Painter Robert Genn in his book, Love Letters to Art, said this:

“I find it valuable… to anthropomorphize natural objects natural objects, including trees.” He goes on to notice how some trees seem to empathize with one another, pray to the sky, or take joy in the wind. The Bible says the trees of the field can clap their hands. Science even tells us plants and trees respond to sound and make their own sounds as they grow. (http://www.livescience.com/27802-plants-trees-talk-with-sound.html)

Vincent Van Gogh said that trees occupied his thoughts constantly. Seeing his paintings of olive trees and cypresses, this becomes clear to me. They do have such personality.

VanGoghTrees

Maybe it’s the size of trees that captivates as well. In summer, it’s possible to ride my bicycle to Left Hand Creek and see old, majestic cottonwoods so tall that eagles find them to be good nesting sites. To draw a human figure next to one such tree seems to put a man in a place of questionable importance. The tree might say, “not only am I a giant next to you, I will outlive you as well!”

Native American Chief Niwot probably visited the same creek of his name sake here in my town. (Niwot means Left Hand.) It’s possible some of these current trees were alive when some of his close descendants walked the earth.

Niwot Canal with overhanging tree, photo, Karen Gillis Taylor

Niwot Canal with overhanging tree, photo, Karen Gillis Taylor

Watertown, detail 2, acrylic painting, by Karen Gillis Taylor, original 48 x 48"

Watertown, detail 2, acrylic painting, by Karen Gillis Taylor, original 48 x 48″. (sold)

There are as many ways to paint a tree as there are tree varieties themselves. They occupy my thoughts so often as well, just like Vincent.

Snow Tree on Canyon Road, oil on canvas, KG Taylor, 1980's

Snow Tree on Canyon Road, oil on canvas, KG Taylor, 1980’s

My earlier style of painting was much more literal. I often painted from photos I took while traveling. Now I let my imagination call up the shapes and colors of trees. In art, we get to breathe our own life into trees we paint. Then I can almost hear the tree speaking back to me.

Thanks for reading.

-Karen

"Tropical Village", detail from acrylic, 24 x 24", Karen Gillis Taylor. (sold)

“Tropical Village”, detail from acrylic, 24 x 24″, Karen Gillis Taylor. (sold)

Pines and Mist, color sketch for painting, KG Taylor

Pines and Mist, color sketch for painting, KG Taylor


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