Treehouse Dream #1

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 36x54 oil on panel

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 36×54 oil on panel

I’ve been looking down and across the water of the pond for three years now, looking at the layers of reflection and the growth under and on the water. Every now and then, I’m reminded that up also offers its pleasures, especially during the transition into fall (or after a dry summer when the water levels have dropped). Treehouse Dream #1 is an example. The painting started by looking down into the water, with trees arching above me offering their reflections to the mirror below. The longer I gazed, the more I understood how Alice felt in Wonderland, her whole world turned topsy-turvy. I felt like I was in the trees, looking out from an imaginary treehouse. The same treehouse I dreamed of having when I was little. Everything is in motion, aflutter with the breeze. I inhaled the drying scent of leaves, of autumn’s sweetness with an undertone of the muddy pond below.  I could have stayed in that “treehouse” all day, but since it was impossible, I decided to bring the impressions back to the studio and set them down. Now the treehouse dream can stay with me. I invite you to climb up yourself and linger. Details below.

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 - detail from upper right

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 – detail from upper right

Technical painting notes: this painting began on an alkyd-primed panel. The first layer of thinned paint was applied with a soft rubber roller, then “distressed” with a remnant of plastic shopping bag dipped in solvent. I used a silicone scraper to draw out some of the leaf shapes and branches. When this layer was dry, I applied transparent glazes and began defining negative shapes and sky. More drawing, this time with paint, elaborated on the leafy motif.

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 - detail from center top

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 – detail from center top

The complexity of the image almost overwhelmed the general impression I wanted to create, so I used the rubber roller to thinly roll out the wet paint – almost like a glaze. I also mixed a pale, neutral gray with Liquin Impasto medium and rolled that onto the panel to subdue the color a bit and to “chain” or link passages. While it was still wet, I used the silicone scraper to draw or carve into the panel, allowing the resulting descriptive lines to contrast with the soft edges from the roller. Highlights of strong, calligraphic color kept things lively. I glazed down the values in some areas to echo the dark reflections in the water, and to add drama.

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 - detail from upper left corner

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 – detail from upper left corner

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 - detail from lower left corner

TM8573 Treehouse Dream #1 – detail from lower left corner

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