Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Three Things - Tree School

Maples with Blue
8.1" x 6.5"
Casey Klahn

One thing I glean from this image is the necessity to compose the whole picture when featuring trees. Direction, the rule of threes, and (believe it or not) a controlled palette are three important lessons.


Dianne Mize wrote about this recently, and I want to use this image as an example of directional strokes. The big, scumbled strokes are unified. In other words, there aren't a bunch of big marks, plus small, finicky lines, plus whatever. This image uses the same types of strokes. The directionality is strong, with a diagonal steeply rising to the right. A strong violet horizontal provides a counter pose, and electric greens give an entrance for the eye at a shallower diagonal in the foreground.

The Rule of Threes.

New blogger (and my High School classmate) Garth, wrote a post about the power of three. Maybe there is a mystic numerological reason for favoring threes, who knows? I employ a "rule of threes" in composition as a means of simplicity and yet there is still a depth of idea to three spaces.

This image is composed with sky, trees and ground. How basic can you get? Also, notice three basic colors, ultramarine or violet, green and yellow.

Controlled Palette

Two primaries and their intervening secondary limit this palette to, essentially, one side of the color wheel. That limitation provides power and unity to the color composition. The viewer is less apt to be confused looking for the whys and wherefores of a broad palette.

As a colorist, I choose to present full intensity colors as much as possible, and yet I want to keep nature recognizable. This image keeps the viewer grounded by utilizing local colors, yet they are "amped" to maximum intensity and contrasted against the olive green trunks. The value scale is spread from darks to middling values to not-too-lights.

The venerable maple tree is as evocative an image in America as any of nature's offerings. I tried to keep that in mind when I executed this green maple. I wrote more about this image in Deciduous Trees Expanded.


Jala Pfaff said...

Wow!!! Wild, crazy, magnificent color!

Casey Klahn said...

Ha ha. Thanks, Jala.

Jala Pfaff said...

I forgot to ask: When you do your tree paintings, do you tend to like to work from nature, from photos, or just from imagination?

Casey Klahn said...

With Philip's question and yours, I see I'll have to address this in my next post. Quick answer: imagination fueled by "artistic seeing".

Gesa said...

This series is great, Casey. And I am very smitten with your tree pastels. There is something in their flatness that is so alluring. They are so flat and yet so cloudlike. Fascinating!

Casey Klahn said...

Perhaps we're not through with "Modern Art" yet, eh?

Thanks, Gesa!

Jala Pfaff said...

Hi Casey, check out my today's post for a little admiring shout-out to you and a bit of fun...