|Red Progressions, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches Private collection, Dallas, TX|
Purchased from Dominique Boisjoli Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
3 minute video of this work with Ken narrating
My first desire when beginning this oil was to create a forest scene that didn't have a high finish. That is, the brushstrokes and even the physical surface of the oil would be rough. Forests are not even, polished places and I wanted this large oil to convey a bit of that experience.
In the first session when I applied all the variations of reds and oranges, it wasn't satisfactory to me. The plan was to put in a lot of complexity right away, creating variables in color but sticking to the idea of a single sweep of red trees and make it believable. I did that, and I was underwhelmed.
Peeking above the trees was an outline of far blue hills and it was lacking as well. I was too predictable. Everyday is not a happy one in the studio, but I did step up and block in a 4 x 6 foot oil, a worthy accomplishment, so I left it at that.
Looking back, what did I expect? That I would have created a really nice oil in one session?
In the second session I came back fresh and simply thought about what the painting needed: Contrast.
Once the dark tree trunks went in, the painting came to life. The background colors began to sing and suddenly the painting was calling out for improvements in a number of places. I drastically cut back the amount of the blue hill that was visible and in turn, it gave the trees more prominence.
Over the next few sessions, it was a pleasure to attend to those needs and take the oil to new places. A number of 'mistakes' were made - attempts that hit a dead end, but those moves opened up new opportunities for other, better solutions.
It all came down to making a good start and continuing forward in a way that would not diminish the power and spontaneity that existed at the beginning. I was committed to this single line of trees without gaps or interruptions. This idea created a series of difficult problems across a 6 foot surface, so a lot of small strategies came into play.
A considerable number of changes were made along the way but always with the idea of creating a large and compelling forest presence that is interesting across the entire canvas.