The Silver Birch Chapel – A Homage to Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam”,
Being outside in nature is a huge source of inspiration, and if you are patient and look with the right kind of eyes, there is so much to see. I do a lot of “en plein aire” painting, but painting this perspective is not easy to do. Looking up into the tree canopy has become a favourite viewpoint of mine, and photography seems the best way to capture the scene while avoiding neck strain. After taking many photos throughout the day it was this particular scene that caught my eye. The composition was instantly recognisable to me as being similar to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, and I liked the cathedral effect with the light bursting through the top layers of leaves illuminating the canopy.
My Design Strategy
My main objective was to create a feeling of depth and variety in the leaf canopy. When painting the leaves, I try to be as free as possible, finding different ways of applying the paint to provide me with a variety of shapes and marks. This can include different ways of holding the brush, using palette knives or using fingers and cardboard to apply the paint. The silver birch trunks would help to bring a dynamic composition, and the branches and twigs painted in a way that would lead the eye around the canopy. Incorporating elements of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam was key to the whole concept of this piece, and care was required to achieve this balance effectively.
My Working Process
After laying down a sunny sky I begin to paint in the brightly lit leaves high up in the canopy, starting with the yellows and pale greens. This process repeats as I work my way down from the canopy, painting successive layers of leaves gradually growing in size as I reach the foreground. The trunks and branches of the birch trees are then established and areas of sky painted back in to bring balance amongst the leaves. Rays of sunlight bursting through the canopy finish the scene and help tie together the different elements in the painting. Taking time out to put the brushes down and enjoy the painting, as well as viewing it critically, is an essential part of my process.
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oil, 70 x 100 cm (28 x 39")