of birches in autumn.

Summer has flitted by in a whirlwind of action, but not without a lot of paint staining the various papers and notebooks in my house. That’s to say, while I don’t really have an excuse for not posting for two months, it has not been because I have abandoned my art efforts, nor fallen to idleness.

Autumn has left me inspired, however, and I’ve been out in the trails taking photos, sketching, and generally enjoying the orange-hued palette that nature has provided.

I will reserve the specifics for future articles here, but I have found a few vibes sitting in the grass on multiple occasions, sketchbook in hand or watercolour paints at the ready, and enjoying some cool-air, low-bug plein air art time.

I took a long walk through the local dog park and then sat on the ground to paint a low-sun scene of the turning trees.

I pen-sketched some detailed work of various close-up fall foliage.

I used tall grasses as a mask to try out a watercolour technique for painting birch trees.

People always come by. People always look at what some guy is doing sitting on the ground with a notebook. People sometimes ask, sometimes sneak a peek, sometimes are obviously not sure.

It’s been a blast.

technique reps

In my minds-eye I have a picture of bold and tall birch trees with their pale hued bark with scratches of deep brown and black making distinctive styles set against a pattern of fall foliage. My idea was to mask off the trees, paint the foliage, unmask and then paint the tree detail. Simple, right? On my sixth iteration I got closest to that minds-eye picture, but in each of the six repetitions of basically the same painting I did a little something right and a little something not-quite-right. If I was being methodical about my art study I'd do this more often: paint something. Then paint it again. And again. And as many times as it took to get what I thought it should be. Because I've done some pretty respectable work this week and it's largely down to persistence and reps.

Over the past weekend I got hung up on the idea of birch trees in the autumn. If I was attempting realism then the complexity of stark white trees set against a spectrum of fall foliage would be a considerable challenge. But there is a bit of the scene of birch trees, bare as they are in their mid-sections, where they stand out stark and crisp against a backdrop of colours, and after six repetitions of the same subject I’d started to get a feel for what the colours, layers and shadows should look like.

So after a summer of painting and practice, it all came down to birch trees.

Over and over and over again.

Winter is coming and idleness will fill the cold spaces and I’ll be looking back to my summer of painting adventures with envy at the opportunities I had and a little bitterness at the opportunities I missed.

But I am sure glad it’s still autumn for a few more days.