Sunday, May 29, 2011

Apple Trees


Every year, I like to paint my apple trees.  Last year, they bloomed too early; this year, with the cool, wet spring, they are late.  But, then, I've also seen them bloom in mid-June, so maybe this year they are actually right on time!  At any rate, they have just started.  My project for the next several days is to paint several large canvases of them for a show I have in August.

Campobello Island once had many family farms, and apples were planted aplenty.  Our property was such a farm, and it still has perhaps a dozen different types of apples.  Some are good for eating right off the tree, some need to be cooked first, and a few, I'm told, need to sit in an apple cellar for a winter, and those will become the sweetest.  A couple trees in the dooryard must be a hundred years old.  All of the trees could use pruning; we don't do much more than cut down the raspberry canes around them once a year so we can at least get to a few apples each fall.

It has been a cool and foggy week.  When I first noticed the buds were beginning to swell, I waited one more day until they began to open a bit.  Then I set up and blocked in an 18x24 canvas, just to get the foundation of value and color laid in.  The second day, the trees had opened a bit more, so I set up again to refine the relationships of the big shapes.  (If you aren't sure what I'm talking about here, you might check out my mini-video on Adjusting Shape Relationships.  http://stores.lulu.com/miragenm)  Now some of the trees have exploded into bloom - but not the trees I was painting!  However, the blooming ones were close enough that I was able to use them for a model.

Below is a sequence of photos, plus the finished 18x24.  I plan to do a few more large ones, and I'll have to work fast - the blooms won't last more than a week or so.

Sketch

Set-up

End of Day One

End of Day Two


Final:  "Apple Trees and Raspberry Canes" 18x24, oil

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed seeing the series of how your apple blossom painting evolved. You caught both the softness of the apple blossoms and the softness of Passamaquoddy air in that painting. (And I happen to very much like working on 18x24's myself; that pleasing 3:4 ratio.

Item 2: Is that our Gloucester (Beauport) easel? I'm interested in where you set your palette, because I hadn't thought of that and consequently haven't used mine yet - and because I like to do paintings too big for my French easel (i.e. over 34" tall) I was discouraged. Thanks for giving me that understanding! Now I can go out and tackle some 40" squares I want to - or set up indoors to finish a 40" square I began in Eastport by bungee-cording it to my French easel. Hope you get some more apple blossom paintings in - it is so nice they waited for you to come home!

Happy Little Trees Studio said...

Love, love, love it! Thanks for showing your work in progress. Very cool!

daniela.. said...

At first to my eye, the second last one looks finished, but then the final one looks so softened, and, deeper in dimension. Thank you for the step by step look at the lovely work.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks, everyone!

Dan said...

Very nice painting. I see someone already commented about your easel. I was curious too if you bought it or made it?

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Hi, Dan, and thanks. I bought the easel. It's a Beauport, which is similar to the Take-It easel, which in turn is based on the traditional Gloucester easel. The Take-It easel is much better made - much higher quality - and the Beauport, if you were to get it, has to have some fixes made to it so it works properly. Here's another blog entry on it: http://mchesleyjohnson.blogspot.com/2010/12/more-large-format-oil.html