Featured response on Robert Genn’s Twice Weekly Newsletter

I responded to his recent column about compositional starting strategies and was happy to see my response published. If any readers are artists, you may find his bi-weekly column as interesting or useful as I do. Sometimes serious and business-like, sometimes warmly emotional, sometimes light-hearted or ironic, they almost always contain inspirational or practical advice that works for me. Such as, paint first thing in the morning, do the other stuff later.  I commend the newsletter/blog to you.

My own recursion: trees wrapping trees

This weekend with the help of four other people, three dogs and a cat, I took the large burned tree paintings, After the First Death and Burned at the Base out to the snowy woods. Ruth and I had spent part of the previous day tromping around the vicinity, scouting for the right group of trees. It took about 4 hours to stage the paintings, to put protective fabric and plastic up to keep small branches from poking and sap from sticking to the backs of the paintings, to pin them in place, to photograph them and take them down. The temperatures with in the 20’s (Fahrenheit), with light snow. Good thing Steve is over 6 feet (2 meters) tall; we needed his height so that the base of the tree showed at the bottom.

I’m thrilled with how compelling they look in their (un?) natural habitat. There is something visually intriguing about the mix of rendered and photographed surfaces; how well they blend in and yet how much they stand out. This is as exciting as when I started burning drawings of burned forests on rice paper.

I learned a great deal in the process, were I to repeat this installation. It’s astonishing how much engineering and problem-solving there is in fine art!

Weatherproofing the art

Today I’m sealing up the backsides of Burned at the Base and After the First Death. The fronts have been spray-varnished at Plasteel with anti-moisture, anti-UV chemistry. The only place I have that is big enough for these babies is my dining room floor.

Then the next time we have a spell of good weather I’m going to take them out and wrap them around real trees to photograph them. I have no idea how I will safely transport, handle, and hang them out in nature; I’ll have to coax someone into helping me — a small painting? hot chocolate for life?

Sealing the Back