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This piece was a true plein air painting adventure, and one that took 3 and a half summers. I could tell it would be a longish adventure when it took about 7 sessions just to sketch it in. It helped to give the branches nicknames as I went along, but the "architecture" of it all is such an important part of this subject's story, that I found myself willing to fall into a state of peace around the patience needed. In fact, the overall experience was mostly peaceful work, dotted with dramas around painting the dapples of light that are all around the painting. An interesting temptation came along, which was to paint everything in spotlight, because they are so compelling when you see them in person. But this was a process of weaving many, many days and episodes together to try and tell a singular and coherent story. So, most of the small pieces had to stay in their mostly supporting roles to what I thought was this tree's most eloquent version.

There's a funny paradox at the center of this painting for me. The composition is utterly simple, (a stick), while the subject of the painting is quite complicated. One could even say it's "crazy complicated." My inclination in painting is to surrender as best I can to the nature of the subject and "the way that it is," and this was an experience of being willing to just go along with the complexity that is there. We are probably seeing pieces of about 7 trees. Trees are complicated, and beautiful. Life is complicated, but beautiful. The underlying inspiration of this piece was to say: "Thank You" to the Author of Life for all that is.


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The path of working on this piece had me start at the top right and work down to help get accustomed to the contrasts and tones of the tree. I started including the trunk, but it wasn't until the second summer that I chased after the most dramatic lights we see in the upper center. It took until then to have the familiarity with the patterns of light that would appear, and to know that the effects of around 3:15 were the ones that spoke to me the most. Also, it helped having the upper right half completed to be confident enough about the colors ... more below


The rest of the piece unfolded in a humorously "clockwise" manner. It just naturally evolved that way, but it felt right, as the light effects of the upper left, and the drawing issues at the top center were some of the most non-intuitive and challenging, so those were saved for last. I did some refinement of the upper right area to finish, because, well ... I was a slightly different painter 3 and a half years later : >)

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