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The above painting is another experiment in format. Instead of cropping an image into a long and narrow format like in the previous post here, I cropped my reference photo to a square. A square will often give an up close and personal look at the image you are creating. It is a non-commital format but can be used to attract attention when hung alongside the much used rectangular formats used for landscape. This week, my landscape students have been asked to create a landscape, using the guidelines of composition, within a long and narrow format or a square.  This means they need to be mindful of their area or center of interest.  It is my hope that this exercise will inspire them to reach for an interesting crop with their reference materials and open the door to more creative interpretations of the world around us.

I was fascinated by the image of the above tree when I found it on wet canvas. I do not know what kind of tree it is. I liked the contrast of the warm colors against the snow and those foreground shapes with the deadwood branch pointing back to the tree, above. There was a lot of movement in that old gnarly trunk and the foliage offered me a chance to play around with color and wet-in-wet applications.  I liked the feeling of playing around with abstract forms to render something realistic. I also thought this image could be created in collage papers rather effectively.

Thank you, again, to wet canvas for the reference for this.


  1. Love the feel of being windswept in snow, a surrounding swirl you often feel in the snow. The soft-cloudy feel of the trees compliments the colder crisp nature of the snow. You obtained that as you explained by your color use. Great free feeling interpretation.

    • Thankyou, Nancy! That lower branch looks like a proper place to sit and read come summertime. This would also make a great hide and seek tree! 🙂

  2. Fascinating gnarly old tree. Love the contrasts between the trunk texture and starkness of the snow.

    • Thankyou, Susan. Gnarly is exactly how the photographer described this tree. I liked the movement of it and the rise in the landscape around looked too fun to resist.

  3. Very interesting! And lovely colors.

  4. Has a Japanese wood block feel. Brilliant!

  5. Capturing an abstract element like wind on canvas is a great challenge, I can feel the wind here!
    The blending of colors against the super soft looking snow looks beautiful Leslie , a unique composition of abstractness in reality.

    • Thankyou for seeing that abstract quality that drew my eye, Padmaja. This looks like a tree I could hug! The shape of it was so bent and windworn that it was not hard to render it looking such and then the swirl of the slope furthur enhanced that. Would have loved to see this in real life, but therough the eyes of a photographer is better than nothing. Thankyou!

  6. As usual a beautiful painting. Just love looking at your paintings so peaceful.

    • I love it that you visit my blog, Corey. Thank you for the support, so much! 🙂

  7. Fabulous design – keeps me right there wandering around and exploring every angle.

    • Me too, with the reference for this. It was a regular rectangular photo that I chose to crop to a square to enhance that circular effect of slope and bent tree. Thank you for this comment, so much.

  8. This makes me think of a fall foliage tree caught in an early snowstorm. I like the swooping effect of the snow with the curve of the tree. A landscape crop might not have allowed that.

    • Ha! That’s exactly what I said in response to Mary’s comment, above. I should have read yours, Ruth. That is exactly why I cropped this to a square. I think it is a tree caught in the first snowfall. I have one of those flowering pears in my back yard and it never sheds it’s leaves until it snows and I’m out there trying to rake up soaking wet leaves. Thank you, Ruth!

  9. Hi Leslie! 🙂
    Really love it! Hope you had a great Halloween!!

  10. As usual, I love it, it’s been a while since I visited you or your blog, so thought I should see what you have been up to, you are an endless talent Les, see you soon.

  11. the first word that popped into my head was “whoosh”. I can feel the movement of the wind in the tree. I like this square format with the curve of the snow and the bend of the tree. Your composition makes my eye dance around your painting feeling the movement of your work.

    • Excellent! Thankyou! The “woosh” is what I wanted to get out of this piece. That is what I saw, too, Carol.

  12. Wow Leslie! This is so full of movement and color! It is really spectatcular. I do forget about the square as a format. I think its because our papers are square and its harder to find precut and assembles mats and frames. What a great exercise for your students.

    • You are so right. Changing format to a square or a long and narrow piece can often capture the viewer’s eye. Your reason for artists not creating on more interesting formats is just exactly what you have stated, here. Framing involves either knowing how to cut your own mats and frames and assemble them or take the painting to a professional framer which is expensive. We only do this once a year because of just that reason, but we are continually experimenting with cropping and re-arranging for better composition in our work. Thank you for this comment.

  13. Magnificent tree! (I thought I left a comment here but I must have marveled and then skedaddled!) I do love the cropping idea. I use it myself sometimes on reference photos. It can totally change your perspective. Beautiful painting – interesting trees are a terrific subject.

  14. A good use for this composition and format. I like the way you have abstracted the leaves too!

    • Hey, thankyou for that. The leaves were actually the most fun. I decided to try to render the foliage like a bouquet of fluffy colors, rather than pointillistic textured look I usually use for leaves.

  15. It is brilliant 🙂

    Andro xxx

    • Thankyou, Andro!

        • Gray Dawster
        • Posted November 12, 2013 at 4:12 am
        • Permalink

        You are welcome 🙂
        Have a lovely Tuesday

        Andro xxxx

  16. I feel a dynamism in this tree, Leslie, enhanced by the upward curve near the bottom of the image.

    • I think this tree is telling us his or her story of a lifetime. You seem to capture that in each and every one of your photos. Thank you, so much for stopping by and commenting. Must go over and see what you are up to!

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