This is finished I think. I have to tighten the canvas (spray the back with water and let it dry), sign it and have a slide made.
Last night I attended a critique class, presided over by Francesca Fuchs, at the Glassell School. They thought this painting was finished and I even became convinced it was. Then I began working on a little bit of it and voila! I could not stop until it was this version.
One of the decisions an artist makes is (though it may sound obvious, it is not at all easy), "what is this painting about?" In this case, it is about the mountain itself, its rocky prominence, the softness of the trees and insubstantiality of the clouds reinforcing its muscularity. In the version just before this, I had the trees forming a low frieze across the bottom to push attention upward, but they were too hard-edged and insistent, so I went into that area and softened them considerably.
One of Francesca's comments was that the red edging on the green treetops was irritating to her. Red and green are the most difficult of the complementaries to work with, and both hues were at saturation. The red and orange are mostly hidden now, only affecting the colors on top of them, not peeking through any more. There is a sort of reddish cast to this photo, which distorts how it actually looked in daylight, but you get the idea.
Noooo! The red peeking through is brilliant! I sometimes use a bit of orange too, when painting pine trees. The Group of Seven (Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, Frederick Varley, Tom Thomson - many students of my friend George Agnew Reid at the Ontario School of Art) all painted their plein-air studies on varnished wooden panels and left the warm wood peeking through for wonderful effect. Don't let irritated critics in!
Red is still there, never fear! and orange too. I like it better than I did, mainly because I softened the tree shapes and made them less insistenly similar. Red is almost always visible in my work. Thank you for defending it!
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