Sunday, August 22, 2010

Liquid Shadow

"Tree Nocturne (Leaning Wall)"    SOLD
oil on panel, 2010
5" x 4" (12.7cm x 10.16cm)

This nocturne is based on several locations, so composed from memory. I always enjoy working this way for it's own unique challenges.

First, I was struck by something, some quality, when I initially saw it (or them, when more than one location). And that serves as my primary inspiration.

Second, I must decide what to include and what to leave out from each.

Third, I have to decide a view point since I may have seen the original location(s) from a completely different one.

There are other considerations like value scale, color palette, edge control etc., but without the first three, I can't begin.

In this painting my primary inspiration was the overhanging, overbearing tree and it's shadow pouring down the wall and into the street like a high viscosity ink. I went back to re-view that location later and the tree had been cut down, but that image was still etched in my brain.

Although there was a wall at that location this one was taken more or less from another for it's pilasters. The rest, a compilation of memories... the narrow single slab sidewalk from an older neighborhood, before easements... the street sign, newer but oddly placed... the leaning, rough textured, poured concrete wall.
The challenge from memory isn't as much what to leave out (like photo reference), it's what to include. I like sparse, but as I have said before, that can be a shaky line to walk. With view point worked out the 'make or break' now lies with the other considerations; value, color, edges etc.

With the shadow being the main feature, I scrubbed the lighter values in around it, which also provides texture and softer edges for a deep core, the blue giving life to the darks.
The 'No Parking' sign, although central to the composition, really is second reading. You see first the shadow, then follow the diagonals to the sign, where the lightest values lie.67

Click on image for larger view

*Update - previous post original value thumbnail here.


  1. The instant I scrolled down to this one the fluidity struck me. Your description further painted the image in my memory. There is something haunting yet peaceful in the way you painted this. Thanks I love it.

  2. Good eye... yes as a night owl I have always loved nocturnes and see the 'haunted' & 'peaceful' in the nocturne as well. The night seems to have two simultaneous but opposite characters to it.