Portrait of a Tree

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“Portrait of a Tree” 4 x 4 in oil on birch panel. SOLD.

I was surprised when several people bid on “Portrait of a Tree” in a Daily Paintworks auction. It sold for $30 and I was happy. If I still had the painting today, I’d rephotograph it to eliminate the shine.

I painted “Portrait of a Tree II”, also 4 x 4 inch oil on a birch panel, a few weeks later and put it on my website. There was no interest in the second portrait and I still have it. I’ve wondered about the different levels of response to the two similar paintings and I have a couple of ideas.

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“Portrait of a Tree II” 4 x 4 in oil on birch panel.

Looking at the two paintings more than a year later, I see that the first painting has a rawness to it. The colors are more intense. The brushstrokes are similar in both, but the first tree has a ragged quality. The second painting was completed a few weeks later, when I had gained more control of my paint brushes and colors. The tree doesn’t look more like a tree; it’s just different. It reminds me of a well-pruned Christmas tree. The raw quality that I attribute to  a lack of control and experience has receded. Tree II is not better, but it is “nicer.”

So where does that lead me as a painter? I’ve spent a year practicing how to paint what I see. My work has continued to develop along the line of “nice”, as in “Portrait of a Tree II”. While that has been a necessary step in my work, I recognize the power of emotions. I believe people have emotional responses to paintings, and these two paintings elicit different emotions. Going forward, I will make more effort to express my own emotional responses to what I see rather than be merely a recorder.