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Struggle

It seemed so easy, walking by the canal, I saw this view and thought "that's worth remembering for a picture." There were these trees back lit and yellow green on one side and dark foliage on the other, the geometry of the railway bridge and the shapeless water side planting running wild, all reflected in the water. However, this picture has given me a lot of trouble as I sought to abstract the key compositional elements. The dark foliage easily resolved itself into Jean Arp-is shapes but the sunlit foliage has no coherent form ad seemed to work itself to rags on the edge furthest from me.


There seems to be a convention among painters that we present a landscape in "landscape format" as that corresponds to the way we see them. But a picture of a visual event in nature, like this juxtaposition of natural and manmade elements is made more dramatic if you use "portrait " format. There was a tree on the left that angled up at around 45 degrees coinciding with the geometry of the bridge so that where that crossed the bridge girders it seemed as if "X marks the spot." It then extended into the sun lit foliage on the right



There was no preliminary sketch on paper but I went straight onto the canvas and drew a line half way up it and located the intersection about a third of the way across from the left, to be my X.


The water was the easy bit. I hit on the idea of lines of thin paint braiding together, overlapping and not totally hiding sections of unpainted canvas. I repeated the colours from what was happening above the waterline.


To make a strong contrast with the light greens on the right I mixed violet and prussian blue as the base colour for the dark foliage, high lighting it with chrome green. The dangling foliage seemed menacing, so you can see that I gave it a semblance of a salivating animal.


The problem I had was one of scale as all those leaves seemed to shimmer and I got carried away creating texture in the water side bushes and the back lit trees. They did not look right against my mythological monster dipping down for a drink. So for the first time ever, yesterday I got out my brushes and repainted them wholesale. I got so carried away I did not stop until 7.10 p.m.


This is the result.


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