Ship Island Redux

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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.

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