Confessions of a Florentine Pet Sitter

Roadtrees Evolution


Out of the corner of my eye one afternoon as I was driving north on 101 from Coos Bay I saw Road Trees. I imagined the focus to be on the trees, and not have a definite background subject for this painting. Road trees are those trees left along the road by the clear-cutters. I understand it was an environmental conciliatory effort on the part of the logging company – trees left standing to hide the devastation. It doesn’t work. The devastation remains evident.

I enjoy the dark and light juxtaposition of the dark shore pines against the light alders, and the background light. Small marks in the background give the feeling of logging detritus afloat in the slight wind created by cars and trucks zipping past the road trees…dust, twigs, leaves jumping with afterglow of the setting sun.

I worked this idea into a painting back in 2008. I was living in a small damp and drafty trailer, but I managed to find room for my easel and a big 36 x 36 stretched canvas. I painted this image in 2 or 3 versions, and was still dissatisfied with it. I now think I was bereft of confidence in my abilities, style, and image concept. I was afraid. I never showed it to anybody. I covered it with white gesso on which I painted two successive images, neither of which met with my approval, probably due to the same fear of failure and the same lack of confidence in my work.

Recently, as I looked through digital files of my work, I saw those old images of paintings that no longer existed. Wow! Fortunately,  being savvy enough about something, I took photos of them as I worked. At this time I liked their digital reproductions and couldn’t believe I had destroyed these paintings. In my estimation now, they were not bad compositions, not bad paintings. Neither were they perfect, but different enough that they might have stirred up some action, maybe good, maybe not so good. Many times, after the fact, my feelings for the paintings surprise me. I ask myself, did I do that? Wow.  And to hear people say they like them when I was sure they would not be received well is a surprising and pleasant experience.

I am now trying to repaint these ideas. Road Trees is the first. I am making a concerted effort to not paint over it. I will show it. I will wear it a year or so and if nothing happens I’ll use the canvas for another project!

The following images are examples of these unsuccessful past paintings. They were done in oil.


Early Pen & Ink sketch for RoadTrees


The First Roadtrees


The Second RoadTrees

The second image was a continuation of the first after I decided the first wasn’t good enough. When I look at the first painting now, I enjoy its simplicity and color. Sad to say, I think the composition was a bit bold for me at the time. I also fell in love with the continuation of that painting in its second image. I wanted to recreate it.

Before the road trees, on the same canvas were the following paintings:


Spider Mum

I didn’t know the name of the plant I had painted: It looked too much like a spider for me. With my spider phobia, I just couldn’t let it hang around. I painted over it with gesso. Much to my chagrin, I later learned that this plant was a Spider Mum. I wanted to kick myself in the butt for destroying this work. I really liked this painting but it was soon painted over with the blue image below. Oh well…onward and downward….

subject two

Abstract twigs on blue sky; film simulation

I can’t remember what triggered this painting except that I wanted to have a simulation of film tape going across the bottom and top so I could do a horizontal image in on a square canvas. Yeah, I know…but hey, I didn’t have enough spare change to buy new canvases!

after the storm_blog

After the Storm, Before the Next (Horizontal bars remain from the previous painting.)

The last painting I did on this same canvas had reincarnated through four generations due to my fear and ignorance. It turned out to be the one I saved and the one that sold immediately at a show. It is now hanging in a friend’s house. Every time I see it, I can’t believe I pulled that one out with my brush! All that torture paid off.

I kept the horizontal bars of the previous incarnation and used the horizontal format to recreate a scene I witnessed one winter morning just as the sun rose low in the eastern sky. A flock of Seagulls were circling en mass above the beach for miles looking for bits and pieces of food washed up on the beach during the storm. As the sun rose, light caught the birds wings causing them to flicker and sparkle like god had thrown a handful of glitter into the air above the ocean. It was magical. I failed to catch that magic in the painting, but I realized later that I had done something magical with the composition by leaving the horizontal film strips top and bottom. They created a border and for some reason with a few of the birds flying towards the viewer, towards that edge, it creates an optical illusion as if the birds are going to fly right off the canvas, right through the screen. Like a 3-D movie.

The moral of this story is: don’t paint over your paintings until you have lived with them a while and/or shown them at least once to someone, anyone! Oh, and finally, TRUST YOUR JUDGEMENT. I know… it’s hard!

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