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My daughter walked in one morning and saw this painting in progress. She commented that it looked like a place in Lord of the Rings.  People on Wet Canvas had commented that the reference photo looked like where the gnomes and fairies play.

When I first saw it, I had a totally different thought. I read a book quite a few years ago  titled The Education of Little Tree.  In the book, the grandmother told Little Tree (the little boy) that everyone needed a special and secret  place where they could go to think things through.  I thought this landscape looked as though it could serve as a secret place.

What I worked on with this painting was trying to subdue my greens.  I was happier with this than most of my greens. I used olive green, oxide of chromium and transparent yellow as well as some raw sienna for the leaves and grass and moss.


  1. leslie,
    It’s wonderful. Definitely a hideaway. I have to agree with your daughter though; it reminds me a great deal of some of Tolkien’s own art, as well as some of my favorites done on his works. Of course, for me, an elven glad would be the perfect secret place. 😉

    • Thanks, Yousei. Guess I’m going to have to look up Tolkien’s art, now. I’m always running to something on google. Thanks for the heads up.

      • Yeah! Let me know what you think. Somewhere, in my boxes (not where I want them to be) is a book of Tolkien’s drawings. I look forward to hearing your impressions.

      • I could only find some of his images. His work is fabulous so you honor me with your comment. I loved some of his ink drawings, too!

      • Which ones did you see? Do you remember their titles? I always liked one tree he did, much like a tree of life drawing.

      • Hi Yousei,
        This is what I found:

        There is a tree at the end of the video link. 🙂

      • I am slowly, dialup woes, looking through the drawings. I always liked the eagle and the pictures of Rivendell. I haven’t seen some of these. Thanks for posting the link.

  2. It’s a very inviting place indeed, Leslie.
    So you were working on ‘subduing’ your greens–hmm. I do so love deep lush green tones that I don’t think I could subdue them if I tried. Cool Dawning being a case in point.

  3. Beautiful work Leslie. I love that big tree in the foreground. It has bags of character!

    • I like that “bags” of character. Thanks a bunch, Heather! 🙂

  4. How lovely! Beautiful trunks and brushwork on foliage. And moss, wonderful moss! This reminds me of an imaginary secret place I have, it is different, but just as inviting. One day, when I know what I am doing, I’ll paint it too. What brand of paints do you use that make such uplifting clear colors?

    And we are on the same schedule again :D. Such coincidences are amusing to me.

    • Thank-you, Alex. Oh, do paint your secret place. I’d like to see it. 🙂 I use Winsor Newton Artists’ Water Colour. I switched to them 3 years ago. I began to notice that some of my early paintings were fading even though they had not been exposed to light or were framed under UV glass. I decided that the cause was because they were student grade and the pigment just didn’t age as well. My first paintings with the artist grade have not faded and the color is staying vibrant. I hope that helps. It is expensive, but worth it once you are sure watercolor is the way you want to go.

      • Thank you for sharing, Leslie! I am still using my student grade paints. They are special to me because they used belong to my dad. He decided he wants to paint with acrylic full time and gave me his watercolor box. So they have sentimental value.

        I am thinking I want to switch to Daniel Smith when I am ready. In the meantime I terrorize every watercolorist I know about a list of pigments I am putting together, LOL.

      • I assure you that I don’t feel terrorized. My reasoning for Winsor Newton, at first, was their availability to me in this area. I do so hate having to pay shipping on things. Once I started using them, I was pleased and stayed with them.

      • It’s because I haven’t terrorized you yet. Generally I send people a long list of DS pigments and want their opinion on which I missed and which I should buy because they can be mixed.

  5. its smlar to some of the conceptual drawings that end up in such films.
    subduing the greens.
    you’ve given it a kind of subtlelty which i really like

    • Thank-you Kokot especially for the subtlety comment. I saw some beautiful watercolors at the beginning of an old (I mean 70’s) musical rendition of Scrooge. They flipped through them as the overture played and they posted the actors’ names.

  6. I see why Corey thought the trees looked like a scene in Lord of the Rings. I believe it is because in that movie the trees talked and moved and your painting has movement in the branches of the trees. There is definitely a feeling that the trees are conscious and ready for interraction.

    PS Happy Birthday Les.

    • Thank-you, Nan. I like that; the trees talking and probably gesturing with their arms while they are talking like Granny and Mom used to do. LOL! Thanks for the Birthday wish! 🙂

  7. This is Crazy beautiful!
    I had a place that I went to as a kid, it had a big tree but with very low hanging branches and vines. I tunneled my way through the branches which were thick, but once under them it had a huge opening that was almost completely concealed. Loved that place!

    • Thank-you for the nice comment Ryan. I would have loved to see your tree place. I saw something like that in a movie once. Was this in southern Indiana, because I could believe it.Everything is more lush down there than it is up here.

      • Yes in the big town of Dale, population 1000, yee haw. Actually a great little town with several places like I described. I lost a lot of hot wheels trucks and cars under there.

  8. Cool! Fantastic subject and composition. You always paint trees beautifully and this is no exception. I love the combination of gentle, soft wet-on-wets and sharp edges with some stronger layers. There’s so much detail in this, but you haven’t overdone anything – it’s loose and precise at the same time…my favourite combination.

    • Thank-you, June. Maybe I’m getting somewhere with trees? Finally, maybe. That is one of the first questions students ask and we talk about all the different ways. I think loose and precise is a wonderful comment. Thanks again!

  9. I simply want to go there and take a nap… Next time I meditate, I will visualize your painting as a peaceful place to be!
    You are so talented, this is amazing !

    • What an honor, Isabelle. You are correct. This makes a wonderful to imagine while meditating and I never thought about that. I also imagine that there may be places near where you hike that might resemble this place.

  10. Hi Leslie,

    I have managed to stop coughing to finally get to comment on your painting.

    First of all…SUCCESS at subduing your greens. And while I do like your darker, bluer greens, the leaves in these trees work very well. They are a lovely color. They seem more like spring time leaves to me, while the darker greens seem more like deep summer.

    I love how you captured the moss in the cracks of the rocks.

    You have a very “Leslie” technique when you paint your leaves and trees. Its your signature painting strokes!

    I like this painting very much.

    • Thanks, Carol. I hope that you are feeling better. I believe they are springtime leaves.That is the impression I had also. Thank-you for commenting on my strokes because that is what I feel is always lacking. 🙂

  11. Your daughter has right. I watched the movie “Lord of the rings». I just love it 😉
    The picture is very original and I think that I would like to take for a walk there. This is a perfect secret place for someone who would like to spend some time alone 😉

    Have a great day,my friend! 🙂

    • Thank-you Alina! I’ll take that walk with you! 🙂

      • It will be a great moment then 😉

  12. I not only love the painting, but I love your post about ‘secret places’ where we can work things out for ourselves. A place just to be ourselves. Great post!

    • Oh thank-you, Littlelynx! It means a lot to know that some of you can envision that secret place idea along with me.

  13. Leslie, the large version of this is just exquisite. It is a place I can imagine myself going to, in secret, for a quiet meditation. You have conveyed all of that and more in the painting. The emotional depth of this painting is striking. Brilliant.

    • I thought, perhaps there might be places in the Big Sur area that actually look like this. I remember a photo of large gnarly trees that you took a picture of one time? Thank-you for the comment, Kate.

  14. Nice work Leslie. The cool colors help the background go back. The warm hues in the trees help them come forward. Good to see the violet in the trees. I always see violet in tree trunks.

    • Thanks, Jay. You are right. I didn’t think of that while I was painting this one. I remember worrying about not getting those background mountains too dark. You know I like violet and greens. 🙂

  15. I love this, Leslie! It really does look like a magical place! The greens are very pleasing to the eye, too!

    • Thanks, Beth. I have been working with green paintings, off and on, for about a year, now, trying to come up with ways to mix them so they don’t always overwhelm a painting.

  16. First impression is wow, this painting capture by eye. I like painting with some fairy tale or a secret hide out, read too many children stories when i was a kid. I really like the leaves and the strong tree trunk in this painting, it give a sense of freshness, i guess thats how spring time feels like.

    • Thank-you Francis. I like children’s stories even today. I’m sure you are reading to your little one. I really liked your ice cream stand you posted! 🙂

  17. That is a beautiful tree… i really like it… you do such amazing landscapes… and i am completely against landscapes… but yours are really amazing that i cant dislike them… soooo… yeah… your amazing!!!

  18. It came out lovely – a secret garden.

    • Thanks, Bill. I regard that as high praise coming from you whose landscapes I admire.

  19. I like this very much indeed – lovely light canopy of leaves, and great grace and strength in the trunk. Lovely.

    • Thank-you, Sarah. Grace and strength. I like that very much. When I dre these tree trunks and their branches I relied heavily on continuous line that you and I like so much. 🙂

  20. It does indeed look like it is from another world. The creepers on the rocks give it a distinctive look, I think.

    • Hi Raji! Thanks for coming by. The rocks appeared to have cracks in them that the green plant life was coming from. I thought it distinctive, also.

  21. Nice rhythm. The painting just flows.

    • All things nice..
    • Posted January 15, 2010 at 7:49 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply


    Looks like the perfect place to spend some time, its bright and cheerful, like a nice Spring day

    All things nice…

    • Actually, All things nice, I wish I could walk out my back door and into this. Thank-you for the comment.

  22. Leslie – I love this picture – as I love all your trees in every piece of artwork you do with trees in it!!!!!!!! I cherish the tree that you created back in Aug 07 and gave to me when I broke my ankle. At that time I think I needed to have something that was standing strong to look at and that’s why that work had captured my heart so much. This “A Secret Place” recent rendition of trees took my breath away because the more I looked at it, the more I wanted to crawl inside of it and just be captured in it for awhile. I love how you captured the endless wonder of nature in this picture by bathing your subject matter in both the soft colors and the very strong colors of life. I love the perspective you created in this picture – luring the viewer down a path that promises further revelations of both the magnificient and the minute wonders of nature. Your work never ceases to amaze and impress me. Keep exploring your heart and letting us see what you discover there in your artwork.

    • Thank-you so much, dear friend. I imagine you and I riding here and believing this is a little piece of heaven.

  23. mmmm – forests and rocks – my favourite – I love the greens – I find it so hard to get them right – apparently the human eye (or brain) can discern a far wider variety of green than any other colour. So it is hard to make it all work. I like the way you show the green on the tree trunks – it must be moss. S

    • Thank-you Stephen. Yes, the green on the trunk was moss. Some of the green on the rocks were moss. I used olive green and a color called oxide of chromium for these greens and mixed them with other colors I was using to create this.I like those two greens. The oxide one is pretty strong and the olive green is weak like a midtone.

    • Hi Stephen.
      I’m interested about the discerning more greens. Do you have any more information or links I can follow up on this?

  24. Its beautiful, it reminds me of the enchanted forrest. What an exciting place for children to be playing in. Takes me back so many years.

    • Thank-you Paintedbrush!……and welcome back! I was so worried about you and your illness!

  25. fine art.
    I love nature,
    it reminds me of livelihood, hope, and freshness.

    happy Monday.

  26. I think perhaps I’m in love with this painting, if one can be so. I’d like to be IN it, just be there and take in the scenery. Beautiful!

    • Thank-you, Camilla. How come I could guess that you, the nature lover, would like this one? I was shocked that you dropped your blog. I have added your Norwegian one to my blogroll. Thank-you for letting me know about it!

        • Camilla
        • Posted January 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm
        • Permalink

        I’m sorry, I didn’t want to give you a shock. I just felt like I shouldn’t be having the blog, when I didn’t write anything there. I always annoy me when people never wright anything in their blogs, and I keep waiting and waiting, and the next post just never appear. So, that was the honest truth. How about you make a blog with all your nature paintings in it? That would be SO COOL! 😀

      • It would be very hard for me to try and run two blogs. That is why I understand your dilemna about trying to keep two going. I will visit you on your Norwegian one. The english comes through underneath.

  27. As usual you’ve been very busy since I last looked! This is beautiful. My sons have the book of “The education of little tree” & really enjoyed it.

    Isn’t it interesting how we all read pictures according to our experience? I guess that “The Lord of the Rings” & fairies etc could be a pretty typical interpretation for Western people today – especially given how many of us live in cities & don’t get much opportunity to experience wild places firsthand.

    But I can understand how so many people make the Lord of the Ring connection because essentially you’ve captured the magical sensation we can experience in these sorts of places.

    At least that’s what it says to me.

    Also- I agree about the paints- I only ever use Windsor & Newton artists quality as well. Once by accident I ended up with a students ultramarine & it was horrible & chalky & too obvious!

    • Thank-you, Sonya, especially for saying I caught something magical in this. That makes my day. I’m glad you have also discovered that Winsor & Newton work for you.

  28. I came to your blog, I saw beautiful painting…BRAVO!

    • Thank-you antares31. I’ll bet you see places like this on your rock climbing ventures.

  29. Wow! Its a beautiful painting and a beautiful place too.Very serene and graceful.

    • Hi Lily! Thank-you for the comment on this. I have missed you.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By View From a Tunnel « Leslie White on 09 Feb 2010 at 4:05 pm

    […] in the stark contrast between the dark tunnel and the scene beyond. Like the previous post, “A Secret Place”,  I found this image on the wet canvas site.  This took much longer to create than I had […]

  2. By New Blog Banner « Shiteki Na Usagi on 02 Mar 2010 at 10:47 pm

    […] you, thank you, thank you, Leslie of Leslie White blog for permission to use part of your lovely  A Secret Place as my new banner.  If you haven’t visiting Leslie’s blog, you must, must, must!  Her […]

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