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Caroline Henry Art Blog

Bringing an abandoned canvas to life

by Caroline , July 14, 2009—06:18 PM

Topics: Landscape, backgrounds, materials, nature, oil pastel, oils, shadow

My recently listed oil pastel "Birches" might not have been created if I were not a thrifty pack rat. The canvas was a leftover from my husband's short lived interest in becoming an oil painter several years ago. The original attempt was of a stretch of coastal landscape in a horizontal format, with just dark under layers painted in. I found the general shapes of the composition intriguing when it was turned on its side in a vertical format. They were vaguely in the shape of tree trunks.

Then I jumped to the idea of creating a stark contrast with the white of birch bark. At this point I decided I could work with oil pastels. I couldn't have done the opposite, put oil paint over oil pastels. That would be bad science. There were lean oil colors long dry on the canvas. And oil pastels, which become dryer, but never really dry, would work nicely over them. If the situation were reversed, the oil paints would separate from the surface as they dried.

Once I started the painting, I wanted the trees to read well as birch trees, so I included the dark markings and enough shadow to help give them shape. The background is rather abstract, and the mysterious blaze of red along the tree on the left is not explained. I think the deep blues of the background and the general blue cast of light whisper "winter" nicely.



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