I enjoy revisiting old concepts. There’s something exciting about reinterpretation, seeing your vision of a thing or a person change over time. Ship island is one such thing I keep coming back to. This is a small island (only about twenty feet across) on lake Paudash. I did a little study of it back in 2009, and a few months ago I finally got the bright idea to turn it into a much larger painting.
This one was tricky. I started with the colours of the original study, but moved (gradually) to a more muted palette: ochre, ultramarine, cadmium red, naples yellow, sap green. Classics. But I still feel ambivalent about the shape of the tree. The main problem I continually attempted to resolve was that of the main tree: I started by making it a bit too big and heavy, and adjusting the rest of the painting to work around it. I think it works well, but I do wish it was a little lighter, more airy. Oh well, for next time!
On that note, trees, I think, demand a similar skill to portraiture. You really need to balance the forms expertly to get the sense of grace and strength in a mature tree. My tree here in Ship Island is okay, but I look forward to practicing those quintessentially ‘northern’ trees until they’re really great.
One other technical thing: I used Gamblin’s Galkyd Light medium for this one. Works like a dream.