Trees Are Your Friend

“Just go out and talk to a tree.” “Make friends with it.”
– Bob Ross

Trees. I love them. I admit that sometimes they don’t make the best neighbors… like when they fall on your house, or spread their roots under your foundation, or find their way into your pipes. But, other than a few instances where they cause a problem which they don’t do on purpose, trees are a wonderful gift of nature and actually do provide a unique type of friendship to those that appreciate how special they are.

Sister Trees by Karren Case Art

Yes, trees are your friend.

I haven’t yet found myself actually talking to one, but I have often thought to myself “What things have you seen? What stories could you tell?” while I have stood and studied their uniqueness. I’ve climbed them, fallen out of them, planted them, watched them grow and watched them (sadly) die. I feel a kinship with them and appreciate how special they are as well as their contribution to my well being. I could not live where there weren’t any. It also causes me pain to see them cut down for the sake of putting in another development. I’d rather see trees than more cement and buildings.

When Mr. Ross made his statement, I’m pretty sure he was telling his audience to not be intimidated when painting a landscape involving trees. If you’ve tried (other than grade school) to draw or paint them, trees can be a challenge. I admire those that do them in a realistic manner. Me, I prefer to do them semi-real or in art talk, “representational”. At least that way, the trees won’t be upset that I didn’t paint them accurately. I would not want to offend them. They are my friend. (Truthfully, it’s also how I paint just about everything.)

As an artist, I find that the different shapes, sizes, foliage colors, and changes of trees throughout the seasons to be, in a word, fascinating. I believe this is why they are, and have been for centuries, a popular subject for painters, photographers, and others. Unlike other models, trees don’t charge a sitting fee and they pretty much stay where you want them. They are also easy to find.

Even if you are NOT an artist of some type, get up close to a tree and look at it’s leaves, it’s limbs, it’s bark. That tree’s life, what it has experienced, is often right there if you look hard enough. You can see the good times and the bad times it has experienced. Again, what stories could it tell you. Stories about storms, the stress of drought, the secrets of families in the houses around it , changes to the area before you came along, and stories about those pesky woodpeckers that keep showing up!

Trees are indeed your friend. They do much for us and ask so little in return. Their biology is amazing. The aren’t just wood. Next time you are close to one, say hello. Listen to the sounds they sometimes make. And if you are so inclined, hug one.

Painting Like a Child

The Fun of Whimsical Painting

I was at the LAST Art Gallery in historic downtown McKinney (TX) today when a customer walked around and mentioned how delighted she was that we had a young child artist’s work on the wall.

Excuse me???

Well, the artwork she was referring to was NOT that of a young child, but was produced by a respected, long-time artist that (as a member pointed out) is just young at heart. Much of this artist’s work is whimsical paintings, drawings, and collages. If she had been there, I’m sure she would have laughed. Because that’s what the intent is. To make you smile or to make you laugh.

Camo Dog

Whimsical Painting is Letting Your Inner Child Come Out to Play

We ALL have an inner child. Some hear it calling and some don’t. I have to admit that I hear mine calling pretty often. Okay, daily. I hear it daily. I also admit that I give in to it. Not so much in public, but definitely at home. And in some of my artwork.

I also have to admit my inner child is quite spoiled from getting it’s way so much. From some of the artwork that I have seen at various art shows… it’s pretty evident that others give in to theirs as well. And the results are often delightful.

Painting Like A Child Isn’t Child’s Play

Whimsical, silly, artwork might sometimes look like a child did it, but in truth, it is quite often done by someone with a practiced eye for composition, color, mark making, and all the other technical stuff…even though they’re bending and blending the rules. It’s also popular. Not everyone wants a serious portrait, landscape, or still life. Some of us still enjoy high fives with our seven year old selves.

I do want to say one more thing.

Artwork of any kind actually done by a child is a precious gem from a treasure chest and I hope you let them know how much you appreciate what they created. Encourage, praise, nurture. You never know… they might grow up, become an artist, and have someone say how delighted they are seeing the “child’s” artwork on display in a gallery somewhere.

Evolution of an Unplanned Painting

Plan? What Plan?

Most of the artists I know start with a plan. They sketch out what they intend to paint, either from real life, a photo, or a design they come up with. It’s probably the smarter thing to do; however, that’s not usually how it works for me. I tend to just “wing it”. I find I get a lot more enjoyment out of a session if I just slap down some marks and colors, then step back and just look at it for a few minutes. Because within those few minutes, I start seeing things and what is on the canvas starts to “talk to me” (not literally, I’m not hearing things… most of the time… that would be creepy).

I Start With Colors

I mixed up a palette of blues and lavenders, then threw in some white and black. After several minutes of moving colors around, shapes started to form. I backed up and stared at it as I began to see either a treeline or rocks and what might be a horse in the foreground of the painting. Yay! A start!

I Look At Shapes

As you can see, the black area did not want to be a treeline. It wanted to be rocks and cliffs. (Okay, my brain wanted it to be rocks and cliffs.) So, I added oranges and browns to my color palette and worked on the main shapes. The horse shape is still there since I think I can work with that.

Now, however, the horse bolted and two cows showed up. Again, I am letting the scene evolve as I play with it. By this point, I have a good idea where I’m going to wind up. Some kind of a Southwest scene. Memories of Arizona now start running through my head.

Get Along Little Doggies

The cows drove me nuts. On this particular day, I could not get the illusion of bovines on my canvas. So off they went to graze somewhere else. The evolution of this unplanned painting is almost complete. I just need to work a bit on the foreground and keep the animals corralled.

The Final Painting?

I’d like to say this is where I wound up, but as usual, after letting it sit for a week I did come back and do a little more touching up where I felt it needed it. I’d show you, but the changes aren’t that much.

To end with an update… the painting now has a mat and is framed. For this one, the evolution is complete.