Illinois, USA, oil, 20 x 16" (51 x 41 cm)
For me, inspiration is found almost everywhere in nature. I don’t look for the spectacular, because I often find beauty in the ordinary Midwestern landscapes near where I live. I often go out to sketch, paint plein air and shoot photographs of woods, trees, streams and rivers that somehow speak to me and say, “Paint me, I would make a good subject for a painting.” That was the case with this beautiful birch. It looked like it had endured many winters and winds, but was still standing proud. The off-white of its trunk stood out against the foliage and tree line behind it. It was an extraordinary tree and I felt led to capture its character in my medium of oil paint.
My Design Strategy
I immediately decided that the birch tree was my main subject and I knew I had to make it stand out in the composition. I off-centered it slightly as to avoid a static, evenly divided picture. I used value contrast to make the tree have the lightest and darkest values in the painting. I gave the tree the hardest edges and defined it more than the rest of the picture to make it the center of interest. I used diagonals in the background to create a sense of movement in the piece. Finally, I lightened a swath of the foreground grass to create a path that leads the eye to the tree.
My Working Process
I started by doing a quick thumbnail sketch using graphite in a sketchbook, to work out the value structure of the painting. I chose to paint on oil-primed linen mounted to aluminum for the archival quality of the substrate. I blocked in the big shapes of the painting mainly using oil paint straight from the tube. I used a limited palette to create a harmonious color scheme. After the surface was covered I softened all the edges with a lint free, soft paper towel. At this point, I began to restate the entire painting. I then focused on the tree, using palette knife and brush to create edges, final details and the smaller branches.
My Contact Details
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.williamworcester.com