Arboretum shadows and reflectionsPosted: April 6, 2021
I was back at the Morgan Arboretum today, pack on my back and rubber boots on my feet. The last remnants of snow have melted so the view is not as dramatic as when I was there on Saturday, but the subject was still worth painting.
It was really interesting to paint this scene on location after painting it from a photo just yesterday. This was a completely different experience. Whereas yesterday’s watercolour was quite stylized and in some ways almost imaginary, today’s is all about the texture and mess of being on location with the added challenge of dramatically changing light and shadow.
When you’re painting from a photo, the scene is fixed in time. Many details are, for the most part, missing or too dark to see. The best example of this would be the darkened ends of the floating logs. In yesterday’s photo those were completely black but when I was on location I could see colour in the darks, including mossy green and brown bits of rotting wood. Plus there was the sensory aspect of the experience — I could hear birds, squirrels and chipmunks in the brush, and the air was fragrant with fallen pine needles warmed by the sun. You can’t discount what all of that adds to the painting experience. This version may be messier and perhaps not as well composed, but the experience was so much richer in so many ways.