We are welcoming 2012 here in the studio by painting apples.
Yes I’m still….painting….apples !
Try as I might, this final work - the seminal, keystone, massively fundamental focus of the apple themed series - is just simply spanking my artistic self. And it’s all Chris’s fault. Back in 2010, when picking apples at the Tiasquin Orchard on the island of Martha’s Vineyard and visiting with it’s farmers, the Magnusens, my beloved gallery owner Mr. Morse had a vision. Wouldn’t it be sorta fun for someone to do a painting from the bottom of the hill looking up through the trees at a person picking apples ?
Simple idea, lovely idea…who better to do this painting than the woman whom Patricia Neal dubbed, “the artist who paints people without their heads “… Heather Neill.
OK she says and rounds up her favorite Vineyard model, Mr. Theodore Meinelt who happens to live just down the road from the orchard, and off we trot to pose among the heavily laden limbs. Now viewing this photo you will see one of the biggest challenges I faced in composition. These are ancient trees and, like so many of the island specimens which are battered by ocean storms, they are small. Wonderful for picking, and probably pruned to their diminutive height for just that reason…but when you put a human next to them he ends up looking like a giant.
One other challenge was that, good for Debbie tough for me…it was a bumper crop. Thousands and thousands of apples. I knew that in order to do this idea justice, again Mr. Morse must be thanked, it would need to be a panel large enough to let the viewer have the same panoramic feel that originally inspired my muse. And I knew that my ridiculously high standards would not let me take a pass on rendering every one of those apples (forgive me) right down to their core.
I debated, fussed, dripped with procrastinating angst…(Pat has been driven to longer and longer walks with Finn as each stressful day of whining passed) … and finally decided to use the 60″ panel thereby committing to what I knew would be weeks of work.
I started out taking daily shots of the progress with the idea of sharing the journey with you all. But I was so frustrated with the slow pace and the overwhelming amount of detail that I bagged on that early on. But now, as I am nearing the end…she says oh so hopefully… I have decided to show you the abbreviated “process” shots. I’ve been putting detail shots up on facebook as I complete small sections and now seem to have a small but dedicated group of followers with whom I have been teasingly withholding the ” big reveal” of seeing the whole finished work.
There was a great amount of artistic license in play in an effort to wrangle the tree and background, concept and balance, in the pursuit of the “essence” of the orchard. Here is one of the dozens of photos that I used as reference…the closest to the finished comp…
The initial sketch…
First pass… Some sky…
Needs to say more about the island… so how about a water view ?
Flash forward…weeks forward…to the first detail shots…
And now…I’m off to the easel to finish this baby. Have about two square feet of apples, leaves and branches to tighten up and one long branch to snap into shape. Might be two days of work since I have squandered this morning writing this entry…and allowing the tylenol to take effect…since the steady hours of resting my pinky on the panel to work the tiny brushes is taking a toll on my own limbs.
But I’ll get back to you just as soon as it’s done. I promise you will be able to hear the huge sigh of relief in the furthermost corners of your own apple orchards.