This week, Lee Hartman, my oil painting teacher returned to my Saturday afternoon oil painting classes. In her absence, I realized what a difference she made to my Saturday classes, she changes the mood of the entire class. When she was gone, it just seemed the class wasn’t as cheerful, the music, although always different didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the ambiance in the room.
Alas, she was back and good timing too! I had gotten to the point in the painting where I felt I was going out on a limb…pun intended. I needed to add in the tree right in the center of the painting in front of the Lucie Stern Theatre which up to this point has turned out much better than I could have imagined it given the little experience I have with oil painting.
Was I going to ruin it with this new addition?
These thoughts were compounded by a comment from a student that I should really stop since the painting was very peaceful before and now was starting to gravitate towards feelings of horror. I could see what she meant. The dark branches were very foreboding. The intention was not to have the tree be this dark but I did want to define the space the trees occupied with a dark color and then add lighter textures and colors.
Lee did look at the photo and noted that the left most tree must be the lightest with the least number of branches, the middle tree a bit darker and a bit more branches and the tree on the right should be the darkest and most defined in terms of branches. This, she noted, would open up an area for the viewer to access the Lucie Stern building. Otherwise, the trees would feel like a barrier to the the eyes and viewer moving into the painting.
This was great advice and shows the amount of expertise Lee has. In painting, it is the massaging of reality so that the painting is somehow a better version of reality.