May Greens Surround Me (Pining for Spring)

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May greens surround me. Still rich with spring growth, the woods challenge me to capture the quiet awakening of nature from it's winters sleep. Leaves still unfolding and buds pushing up and out from the bed of Autumn leaves. I have my subject before me, a pool of crystal clear water trapped off from the flowing Fox River by a thin strip of land. Surrounded by old trees with their roots exposed from high-water times, the pond is cool and dark under the canopy of spreading branches. Greens are rich in various hues, some yellowish-green while others are near blue.  Through the trees is the silver sheen of the river rushing by carrying clouds and blue sky along in its ever-moving waters. The distant shore is awash in morning sunlight calling for paler yellows to be laid out on my palette. Reds of autumn are left in their tubs - only Alizarin Crimson makes it to my palette to add richness to near black tree trunks. 

 A robin flutters down to snare an unsupecting worm that lingered too long feasting on the moist leaves of autumn. Nature, the master of recycling, provides for all. The still water of the pond has ducks sleeping peacefully among the tangle of tree roots. I sketch out the roots and the ducks onto my canvas before they decide to leave. I'm on my way, though never really sure where to begin a painting when out there in the wild. Only when something truly strikes me do I jump into painting. Interplay of darks and lights brings out the stillness of the pond. Ducks ready for breakfast fly off only after I have them in my painting.

It's a great feeling to accomplish little things like that. The ducks were an unexpected treat. Now I'm free to relax and take my time with the rest of the painting. Two hours pass and I am in my van with half a great painting on the passenger seat as I leave my favorite park. Rewarding myself with a chocolate shake, I head to my studio to finish out the day working from a live model.  Life is good.    

Who Else Might Be Wandering These Woods?

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Warm sun, bitter cold wind, stiff white paint, and coffee warming my hands to enable me to place that one black branch that first captured my imagination. Reaching out, like a hand beckoning me to come closer. Fingers of dried twisted leaves move with the cold wind sending a bitter chill through me. Who else might be wandering these woods? Ghosts of past farmers whisper to me as I struggle to mix the colors on my palette.

Shadows of passing clouds play with my mind as colors come and go. The old oak with it's tattered coat of bark shows scars from a hundred winters. A burl grows just under its first limb hiding an inner beauty for a different kind of artist to find. My branch sways with a gust of wind, drawing me back to the task I have set for myself.

A second concept beings growing in my head as I become part of the landscape around me. I feel the ground beneath my feet as if roots were reaching out anchoring me in place, bringing me closer to the life around me. No squirrels, no birds, just trees and yellow ochre grass - yet I feel life around me. A squirrel might be peeking down from it's nest of dried leaves high in the branches of this sturdy giant. A dozen such nests in surrounding trees may be holding an audience of inquisitive creatures. In the distance a lone figure has started a fire. Blue smoke drifts through the trees and thoughts of my boy scout days drift through my head... 

My painting takes on new memories and new meanings as I near completing my task. The bitter cold is gone from my head, but remains in my fingers and feet as I place the finishing touches to my painting. A new me filled with new ideas, fresh ideas, places my prize on the passenger seat. Scraping my palette clean, I glance back at my new friend and promise to return in the Spring.