Painting of the Month February

PM_paulownia-the princess tree copy

Paulownia, the Princess Tree 2016 36”x50”

It’s no secret that I paint slowly. I compare my painting method to a child’s progress wandering down a street, stopping every few feet to turn over some odd rock or explore someone else’s yard. That’s how I paint. An idea pops into my head and I follow it until it concludes, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Despite the frequent detours, my final paintings look surprisingly like the original concepts that inspired them.

Paulownia, the Princess Tree is one of my favorite trees and the subject of the painting pictured above. It’s considered a weed tree in America, but is a valued specimen tree in its native China. In its youth, the tree is often confused with a catalpa as the leaves are similar, but the blossoms and seeds pods are quite different.

I love the perfume of the beautiful lavender flowers and the seedpods that look like a distant cousin to kiwi fruit. The young wood is hollow and breaks easily. The resulting wounds and scars left on the tree bark intrigue me and were the basis for the painting.

The scarred trunk looked very much like a pen-and-ink drawing and I wanted to capture that feeling and contrast it with the vibrant landscape surrounding it. Originally I had hoped to paint the tree in shades of black, white and grey, but that idea didn’t work – the tree stood out too much from the rest of the painting. I wandered around exploring different solutions until I finally added some muted greens, mauve and soft browns to the tree.

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