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I began this painting on site. Oh the drawing it required!  On and on. It was hot this day and I completed the drawing and painted shadows, lightly, in manganese blue throughout the woodpile and along the rail fence.  The sun was bright and unrelenting and I hope I have passed that on in this painting.  As I worked my lights and darks and the detail, I struggled with how much the woodpile became a part of the fence, in spots, and the colors of the tree trunks in the background blended  into the pile. It became a puzzle until I realised something very important. The wood on the woodpile is of those trees and the fence is of wood, also. Why would they not blend? Sometimes other gifts of thought are brought to artists as they work on something and this connection is one I began to contemplate. I had used a pencil made of wood, my paper came from wood. Even the paintbrush I had in my hand had a wood handle. The board my paper was taped to was made of wood.  As a result I changed my approach to this painting and concentrated on only the bright light and how it moved in and across the scene. It became OK to let the fence melt into the woodpile and the tree trunks to match and blend with the woodpile.  Perhaps I should have just titled this piece  Ode to Wood.  🙂

Ichabod just posted  about “tree stuff”.  Couldn’t pass up linking this post about wood to it.

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50 Comments

  1. It’s coming along, Leslie. I like your spiritual approach to this scene and that you started working on it outside. There’s just something about being there that somehow translates onto the work. Good job!

    • Thank-you, Frank. I am beginning to understand the remarkable task of making choices while working outdoors. A woodpile would not be my first choice of things to paint, but why not? There is a certain beauty that is captured in an outdoor painting and perhaps it has a lot to do with translating the moment. Moments we all walk by everday and never notice.

  2. This is one of those subjects I’m excited to do, until you start doing each piece of wood, and then you just want it to end. Beautiful job Leslie,but it’s just to hot (100 degrees) to think about fire wood!

    • I actually thought of you while I was drawing and painting this, Ryan. What I said to myself was, “Ryan can do this!”… so I kept on. I also thought about Frank, above, and how he would advise that I simplify. I admire both of you and your creations. Ryan, it is too HOT to think of firewood! 🙂 Thank-you!

  3. Great painting looks lovely.

  4. I like this very much. I especially like the lines of the tree trunks behind the woodpile. It gives the woodpile weight.

    When I read your comments I thought, wow, so many things come from trees. When I went back to look I thought it’s almost like the trees where thinking,hmm, I could have ended up in that woodpile. I survived. : )

    Maybe not. Perhaps I need my coffee.

    • I never thought of that; those trunks of trees giving the “woodpile weight”. They look more alive and cool with their headress of leaves, too. Thank-you for that insight, Carol.
      You bring up another question I can ask the owners and that is where the wood comes from. There are trees that have died on their property and perhaps they have had that wood cut up or do it themselves. I don’t know. I have learned that the pond is cared for by a company that only uses organic substances to control the spread of cat tails and preventing the pond from becoming a swamp. I found that totally interesting. The stand of trees on the other side of the fence belongs to the neighbors, I believe. This scene is very Indiana country.

      Thank-you for the insight and the comment!!

  5. Very well done Leslie! Lots of great detail and beautifully observed! It should indeed be called an ode to wood 🙂

  6. Mission accomplished! The brightness of the sunlight, lighting up the whole scene!! It’s wonderful!! I love how you left all that white and I didn’t realize it right away, because it was doing it’s job! It was bringing all of your colors and wood into the light for us to see. I love it!! I don’t know if that all made sense, but I meant to say it’s incredible!

    • What a great comment, Beth, and I thank-you for it. The white may be doing its’ job. I tried to bring the viewer in from the right along the rails of the fence from the light at that end and then plop him down in the puddle of light on the grass in front of the woodpile so his eyes could take it in. See? I make just about as much sense as you! Great thoughts must run amongst artists. We have a reason for doing what we do? Like a million! 🙂

  7. Ode to Wood–I’m letting this brew for now, Leslie. But I will try to do an ode. Seems only fitting.

  8. I love the blue in the shadows, it’s a lovely way to paint and you do it so well. Your work is beautiful, for me it’s all about colour. I wish I could paint with such courage and conviction. Alas, we make the most of what we have. Your ‘have’ is abundantly clear!

    Best
    Keith

    • Thank-you, Keith! What you don’t see are my moments when I am sitting there trying render what I see and everything changes in front of my eyes and I say, “Now what do I do?” I think you spoke of that experience recently and I kind of chuckled and nodded my head as I read your post. 🙂

  9. I just came across the blog and I am really digging that you go through the entire process. I mostly stick to black and white ink drawings and writing but I occasionally dabble in watercolors and will keep an eye on your’e blog!

    • Thank-you for the visit and the comment, Posky: also for making yourself known. I don’t always include the process. I do try to share something about why I painted what I did or how I may have created an image or been inspired to work on a technique.

  10. I like it.
    You definitely should call this ode to wood. lol
    I really like the loose way you painted the log ends

    • Thanks, Richard. Those log ends were hard to figure out what to do with them. They were composed of tiny hairline cracks as well as small washes of changing color. They also had a ton of sparkly light on some areas that made them look washed in white. It’s a definite, “Ode to Wood”. 🙂

  11. Oh Leslie, I am overwhelmed with your work! Is it humanly possible to do those logs? Looks like some machine printed out the whole lot.. haha your work is spectacular and talent obviously proportional:-)I cant figure out how you did those logs truly!

    • This one required quite a bit of drawing beforehand and I really did not realise, at first, what I was asking of myself. I did rise to this challenge, however, and carefully observed the tumble of wood. If I fudged and made some of it up, I was afraid it would not look real. Thank-you Padmaja for a wonderful comment. Oh. I slowly drew each log and each shape in relationship to the one next to it working left to right.

  12. Great painting, although it reminds me of all the work we have to do up here to get ready for the long winter. I think the fence is just perfect It is the dividing line between foreground and background. I love the long format.

    • Thanks, Richard. I like this long format, also. I remember you did some really beautiful landscapes on this long and narrow.I agree with you about the fence dividing the space. Did you get the terrible heat in the 90s for days on end this summer?

  13. They “blend” and they don’t. Each piece of wood is an Ode unto itself, and that is clear here.

    Walking in the forest, one can look at the forest, or see the trees. Here, I think you saw the trees – the wood. They are similar, but not the same. Brilliant, Leslie!

    • Oh, I totally agree that I saw the trees in this one, each and every trunk, each and every cut log and the shape and twist of the rail fence. Thank-you for pointing that out, Kate! …and thank-you for the visit!

  14. I really like the logs! I am always attracted to wooden logs, somehow they have a kind of wistful romanticism to them, I’m not sure I am making my thought clear… But the logs in your painting have that feeling which makes it very pleasant to look at.

    • Thank-you, Alex. You talking of liking to look at logs brought to mind my attempt a few years ago of trying to render the bark of a tree. It certainly wasn’t a daunting task, but I failed, miserably, at creating the vision I had of a beautiful abstract of tree bark. I faced the same thing, here, as I worked down the log pile. It brought to mind how much patience I have, now, that I did not have before. Wonderful things we learn while creating art!:)

  15. I think it is a good observation to notice the material connections between your tools and intended subject matter.

    • I think reading about your sojourns and observations along the river where you live have opened my eyes wider to my world. Thank-you, Al!

  16. Hi Leslie;

    I really like your picture and decided to replace the one I used with this one.

    I read your dialog describing the flow of the wood pile and how your mind allowed it to blend in as it was all stuff from trees.

    I find it amazing and humorous that you and I, without knowing what the other is doing, wrote about the same thing 🙂

    • Thank-you, Ichabod. I always enjoy your comments! I, too, think it is rather other-wordly when thoughts channel this way across the world. Makes me wonder how many other people were thinking about “wood stuff” around the same time, globally. Ha! Thanks for the comment and the ping-back! Thank-you for posting my painting on your blog! I love visitors. 🙂

  17. Aren’t we so privileged to be drawn to this sort of activity – who else gets these wonderful insights. Thank you so much for taking us through your train of thought. Being out there is so enriching and it seems you are getting out more and more.
    I also love that you set out to diligently draw and paint each log, fence post and tree. Each log has a history of growing and being felled and cut and you pay homage to that. Each shade and mark is beautiful. Capturing each piece of information is wonderful. In your writing you take us sequentially through an intuitive, unconscious process. It is all so beautiful and ordinary.
    thanks for all this.

    • You get those wonderful, insights, all the time, Stephen. It is amazing how different it is painting outdoors and the things that come to you when a painter allows the place to talk. The fact that I spend so much time rendering a scene is what makes it impossible to finish on-site. I have stopped judging myself for my slow renderings opting to understand that I am just that way as a painter. I do what I can and capture what I can and home I go. Someday I may bridge that gap. Thank-you, Stephen!

      • Way to go Leslie – this is your very own journey and I love that. Make a space next to you on the path so that we can stroll along together for a time.

      • Wouldn’t that be fun?!!!!! We meeton the internet, miles apart and I wish I COULD paint with you. Kind of we are. You have helped to fuel my endeavors. I won’t ever forget that!

  18. aloha Leslie – yeah, i like this painting too. it’s funny tho, before i read the words i was thinking there was nice separation between woodpile logs, fence and tree trunks. after reading what you’d said i had to go back to see if i could figure out why i saw separation.

    there is a flowing into each other between the logs and the fence particularly at the top of the wood pile and top rail of the fence. i think that’s what you were talking about, yes? – as blending into each other.

    the separation that i was seeing and i think really makes this work to me is because of your use of warm and cool colors.

    altho you’ve used both warm and cool colors in both areas, you used different proportions in each area.

    the wood pile is predominantly warm colors with some cool. and the fence is predominantly cool colors with some warm. that separates the two but it also pushes the warm wood pile forward and the cool fence back in space.

    the tree trunks are then mostly warm, which again separates them from the fence, however being warm they are brought forward in space collapsing the depth to some degree (which is something i like and sometimes play with too – shallow depth).

    the tree trunks dont get into the woodpile as much because of the color in the fence rails and lower green foliage – and the strong vertical lines are also halted with the strong horizontal lines of the fence rails.

    it is fun to go after light and shadow in a variety of ways (light being a great area to explore with paint and particularly – imo – with watercolor which when transparent depends on light reflecting (bouncing) back up through the color from the paper beneath it to get to the viewer’s eye). i also like that idea of areas merging because of light, and the “sparkle” as i think you mention someplace too.

    so… i hope you dont mind… here’s one of my efforts to play with light in a sketch in some of these ways:

    you also mentioned the like-thinking that sometimes seems to flow around the planet through people sometimes. i too have noticed that. and altho i suppose temperatures and summer make thinking about heat something a lot of people might do, posting about it might not be as common. so, just so you know my post today (Aug. 16) had heat strongly in the thought process. after posting it a few hour ago, i now come here to see what you are doing and – zap – you’re feeling the heat too. cool, eh? bwahahahaha – okay okay, your post was a Aug. 12 – it just takes longer for like-thinking to get out to the middle of the ocean sometimes. the ATC i’m talking about was actually painted about Aug. 6. – i think it gets at heat as well as that shallow depth (by making distant objects a warm color) which i mentioned above as well.

    cool. or… cool on warm or cool and warm – and push and pull, forward and backward… etc. or something like that…

    fun painting – and yeah, i like the long format too. it suits the subject well. – aloha – Wrick

    • I wasn’t very descriptive in my post. Thus it caused you confusion. Yes, when I realised that everything was flowing together, I began to darken and lighten areas and play with the warm and cool. I tried to save the rich burnt sienna color in the tree trunks and logs to keep some of the connection. You rock, Wrick. I love how you studied my painting and you pretty much summed up exactly how I painted the fence, background trees and log pile to work. Yep. I think many things like weather and the news affect like thoughts in people. I also like to think it is something other-worldly. There is a mystery to that and just fun to consider that Wrick might be posting something similar to me at almost the same time. 🙂 Great fun!

    • Your link isn’t showing an image. If you want to send me another through. Click on reply to this comment and try it again. I’ll then edit and change it. I would like to see it. 🙂

      • ha. the link worked originally but now i see they probably dont allow remote linking to an image like that. …it avoids ads that way. bwahahahaha. so here is the link to the page it is on:

        http://www.angelfire.com/ri/daddario/pageS1.html

        it was the shell that i was referring to. i was just trying to make it simple to see with the other link and not have to explain about how that is an old site of mine and the various states of decay and things that dont work. so if you go exploring it, just know that i dont post or up date or even receive mail from there now. it still has a few things i am glad are there tho. and altho the forward and backward buttons are blank squares i think they still work – in some ways and in some cases once you figure out which is which.

        yeah, i too like the connectioning that goes on with like-thinking that isnt just common circumstance – because sometimes it’s not. the way i see it is that all human beings are connected at some level. if you think of levels as going down then it’s the level that may be quite deep but where we all connect to a flow of thought that is like a river. and sometimes we find there are a lot of people in the same current on that river. which is the same thought area. and… if that surfaces – up to our conscious level… then we end up with like-thinking that may surface any place on the planet in individuals – and possibly… other planets too. yeah. that’s how i see it. altho similar circumstances might also produce like-thinking, it doesnt account for like-thinking that is not due to similar circumstances…

        mysterious? yeah. and i like mystery. but may be we just dont know all there is to know and that’s what mystery is. actually… i think there is a lot more we dont know than we do know – and a lot of what we do know.. or think we know, probably isnt exactly right either. bwahahahahaha. life.

        yeah, again. it looked to me like you knew what you were doing with color and temperature altho you could arrive there intuitively or through conscious thought either one. personally sometimes i do one and sometimes the other – but when i’m really “just painting” i like to let things like that come into play intuitively. that makes painting more fun for me and i begin to trust myself more and more that way. i like that relationship with the moment better than the controlled – or more controlled one – that is a followed concept – altho both are valid and can be equally as effective.

  19. Thank you Leslie for your wonderful comment on my work.

    I love the ethereal quality of your paintings – and delicate use of color & shadow.

    How pleasurable to be out in Nature brush in hand, dragonflies lighting.

    Enviable.

    All the Best,
    Codifyer
    ~^~

  20. Wow. Just like you mentioned not “knowing” about photography, I’m on that side looking in when it comes to this style of art. However, I know a good thing when I see it and your command of color is amazing here. I’ve looked at this one and many others, and what I notice is a distinct style that has immense fluidity, forcing the eye to move around.

    • Thank-you, bbrasseaux! I feel the same about your photography and will be visiting you, often.

  21. You were definitely successful in capturing a more vivid, “harsh” light in this painting. Love the details here and in The Creek too. Thanks, Leslie. As always, appreciate you recounting your artistic steps; the reading is both enjoyable and instructional.

    • I like that, “harsh light”. Thank-you for that, Adam. You are so absolutely good with words.

  22. Nice work on the woods. I can imagine how hot it would have been painting this on site and i can really feel the bright sun shine from the scene. I hope my Glacier painting will cool you off a bit. Each of the wood are so detail i would surely loose track too if i were too focus on the wood pile. Beautiful painting Leslie.

    • Your glacier painting is wonderfully cool! Oh yes, those logs were a chore but not as big a one as having to split them. 🙂 Thank-you, Francis!

  23. Very interesting study, Leslie. Great choice of color. I find it interesting that you put darks in the background and lights in the foreground.

    • Thanks, Jay. I tried to follow the value patterns that I saw when I squinted at the scene. The dark was there under the trees and behind that bubble looking one on the far right. The woodpile was lit. Totally confusing patterns throughout. Love Foster Park 5 you just finished! http://jaybastian.com/2010/08/15/foster-park-5/


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By The Stuff of Trees | on 15 Aug 2010 at 9:57 pm

    […] Indiana: the-Woodpile by Leslie White […]

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