International Prize Winners
Skåne, Sweden, Spring Beech, acrylic on canvas, 116 x 89 cm (46 x 35")
All the Prize Winners in International Artist magazine Challenge No. 108, Landscapes
Painting with Precision
Troels Kirk, born in Denmark in 1956 and settled in Sweden 10 years ago, is a self-taught artist who started by studying his grandfather’s paintings as a child. “He died when I was a baby, but his landscapes were great teachers when studied closely,” says the artist, who sold his first painting at age 13.
He describes his style as realistic and rich in details, but not photorealistic or impressionistic. Rather, the artwork is a representation of how he perceives the surrounding world. “I began painting at 6, so there has been a very long development,” he shares. “Still I have always painted realistically, but tend to spend a longer and longer time on each painting the older I get, not necessarily because of more details, but rather because of being more careful and precise throughout the process. My colors have become more subdued and natural with age too.”
Nature is Kirk’s constant source of inspiration, and when the light is just right—usually the early morning is his preferred time of day—he leaves his studio to hunt for subject matter. “These outings are essential for keeping the focus and renewing the inspiration. I revisit many areas at different times of the year, building a rich source of memories and references for future use. What I later choose to paint depends on my mood at the time...often I paint what I miss or long for, snow in summer, greens in winter. If I feel stuck in a particular theme, I change subjects.” His landscapes are derived from a number of references: sketching from memory, other times fictional scenes and sometimes photographs. Once in the studio, Kirk makes sketches where he rearranges and edits the landscapes into harmonious compositions.
For the past decade, Kirk has exhibited his work in his large studio gallery that is located in a former village movie theater hall that is also his home with his wife, Anne. His main exhibition each year is the Eastern Art Tour where art patrons can visit open studios and galleries throughout the south of Sweden.
After a long, snowy, Swedish winter, nothing inspires me more than the arrival of spring, the longer days, the reappearing migrating birds and best of all: the return of green leaves. Down by the coast, near where I live, there is a lovely forest full of old oaks and beeches. This ancient, multi-stemmed beech tree greeted me on a light, misty morning, simply begging to be portrayed. Surrounded by younger beeches in the morning mist, and soft, moss-covered stones, I spent a wonderful time sketching and photographing the tree from various angles. A great reward for enduring the long winter...i began the painting later the same day.
My Design Strategy
Back in my studio I decided on the final angle, composition and crop, in order to display the tree in all its glory. The larger vertical stems are intercut by V-shapes of the smaller branches. The center of the great tree trunk tree was offset a bit to the right, balanced by a large mossy stone and a group of smaller beeches to the left. The darkest shadow area is balanced against the soft sunlight streaming in from the left. The greens are warm and light to the upper left, slightly cooler and darker to the lower right. A few beech saplings at the foot of the huge trunk illustrate the continuity of life.
Grand Prize is a four-page editorial feature in American Art Collector magazine
My Working Process
A stretched Belgian linen canvas received a few very light nickel titanium yellow washes all over, followed by light, soft cerulean blue areas blended wet-in-wet to simulate patches of visible blue sky. A cool grey-green was sponged on to allude to distant foliage. A few distant trunks were painted and later scumbled over with more light yellow. A row of young beeches was brushed in and given a slight mist. Burnt umber and Mars violet were used for the forest floor. The big tree was painted in a very limited palette, reusing the background colors plus Payne’s grey and the moss greens. Finally, the fresh green leaves were added sparsely with a detail brush, leaving the central branches and trunk exposed.
Email: [email protected]skirk.com Website: www.troelskirk.com