tree resting returns to its ice bound self / by Philip Tarlow

tree resting at 3pm

3:19 PM: if you look at the rock on the lower left, below, you will notice that the rock on the lower left has some black marks that are a bit too strong, stealing the show form the rest of the painting. so i toned them down a bit. that’s it for today my friends. lets go to town & get some soup ingredients!

tree resting at 2pm


after sitting with the noon version for an hour, i noticed that the unbroken white of the ice needed softening & breaking up. too stark. and the rock on the lower left seemed out of sync with the rest of the painting. so i did some work on those two areas, which allows the eye to roam the surface without getting stuck anywhere.

in the detail on the right, you can see how important the marks i made in the white of the ice are. they push it back in space, whereas before (see the earlier state below) it popped out of the picture surface & had no dimensionality.

tree resting at 12:15 PM

mythological chinese lions, kanō eitoku, 1543-90, 6 panel folding screen, imperial household collection

12:18 PM: well, it did indeed seem far too busy as i glanced repeatedly at it while preparing my oatmeal. it didn’t, you could say, know whether it was coming or going. so i re-visited a creek photo i shot last winter, and upon which this painting is loosely based. it allowed me to re-conceive the composition by introducing the distinctive shapes created by the ice. so now, when i glance at it, it’s a strong composition/ almost too most of the earlier paintings in this post-motion series, rocks, water, branches, ice are suggested, and appear out of a painterly flurry of marks.on the contrary, in this painting as it stands now, i am reminded more of lucien freud than of my 10th C. chinese calligrapher/landscape painter mentors. maybe i’ll get back to preparing my oatmeal before taking any next steps. can you tell by the way that i was studying this 16th c. 6 panel screen as i was having my matcha tea this morning and before getting to work?

tree resting at 11 am today

as soon as i entered my studio, my eye went straight to the center of the composition, where there was a dead spot. i worked on that moments ago, and here’s what the painting looks like now. it may still be too busy. so more work may be in store.

BELOW: yesterdays version on the left, and todays on the right.