Personal Reflections from the Studio

Currently in my studio I am working on the painting of a tall, vertical tree colored in browns with a lively green and blue background. I am considering this painting seriously, because not only do I know if I like it, I do not know if I do not like it. It just is. It does not yet feel done and I am unsure why. It is not comfortable, and complete in the sense that all of its parts fit together harmoniously. But why is that important and to what am I painting it if it is not?

Compositionally, I can discern that it needs thinner more intricate branching around the top to balance it a bit more. This would also make it feel a bit more three dimensional an entwined in the space. As with all of my works, the tree feels slightly surreal in its relationship to the ground. I do not mind this, as I do not strive for a real space. I want the experience of the viewer to be slightly surreal, imagined, and dreamlike. I believe this to be essential to it being anything more than a nice painting of a tree.

I have written before how I treat my trees like figure drawings, focusing formally on gesture, line, and shape. Unlike paintings of people, trees carry no intrinsic emotion or meaning. So what are they then? They are just shapes against the sky. This carries a lot of existential weight for me. I do not paint the sky, or nothingness behind them. Rather, what I paint is a weighted negative space that is very much something. The painting itself is also something, both as an object and an image that I have created. It is an image of a tree that both looks like a tree and is not a tree. I hope perhaps it can be something more.