Why Paint That? Volume 2: Redwoods Sky

I bought a couple of square canvases a while back because I knew of a few square wall spaces that could use a bit of color. My first attempt at design using the square involved making four smaller squares with different abstracted bits of sand dune effects in each. It turns out that four squares full of sand-colored lines is not a compelling image. TOSSED.

My second attempt to use the square canvas came after a trip to Bend last year, when I had a hot-tub-inspired flashback to once upon a time when we had a hot tub in our Bend backyard, which we tended to use after dark (the better to not see you, my dear). Bend has those starry clear, cold nights, when it is only right to be looking up while up to your neck in hot water. We could watch the white stars through the trees while our cheeks (all four) turned pink like sauteed shrimp. 

That memory is not ripe to paint yet. It's dark. The sky is dark, the trees are darker. The only bit of light is from stars. And if I don't get the stars right, Neil deGrasse Tyson will be angry. And you wouldn't like Neil deGrasse Tyson when he's angry. ( 1970s Incredible Hulk reference. Ask your mother. ) I remember how incensed Tyson got at James Cameron when he just filled the night sky with random twinkly lights during the dramatic DiCaprio popsicle scene in Titanic (Cameron later fixed the sky in the blu-ray version). 

But I liked the idea of painting the view you get when you look up through a forest. I remembered a similar moment when we visited the redwoods in the early 90s. Of course, as the daughter of a forester, I've been looking up through a forest all my life, but (a) OUR forests were an everyday thing - nobody paid admission or drove across country to see our neat and untidy Douglas Fir plantings, and (b) there's something about redwoods.

 A photo of the redwoods I took in the 90s. It is the inspiration for the painting Redwoods Sky.

A photo of the redwoods I took in the 90s. It is the inspiration for the painting Redwoods Sky.

The proper shape of such a view would be round, as if you could turn around in a circle beneath it and feel like you were under a sky fanned by green cedary fluff. And if I were a more precise painter, or one with lumber and a jigsaw, I could make a round flat surface to paint on. But instead, I had this square canvas, and I thought I could make it work. 

As with most of my paintings, the drawing portion went well, then it took a dramatic turn for the worse, until I was able to pull out a win at the last moment. In that way, the arc of my paintings are often like sports movies.

 Redwoods Sky. 20 x 20 oil on canvas (palette knife application)

Redwoods Sky. 20 x 20 oil on canvas (palette knife application)

When several of my paintings were on display at Rinnovo, this one got the most comments. I currently have it hung far up on a wall, where you have to look up to view it. I like it that way. Unless you would like to see it at your house. Then we can talk.