Early Fall is my favorite time of year here in Portland. We haven’t yet reached the endless soggy days ahead, and the sun is often out but there is a gentle cooling breeze in the air. I love driving my son to school on these Fall mornings. The sun has just come up and the colors and shadows are so intense under a rapidly changing sky. While we wait outside my daughter likes to point out the different colors in the sky – “Look! There it’s purple! And over there it’s orange!”
One such morning I sat admiring the way the rising sun reached through the buildings to cast its light on an old apple tree when a flock of crows burst off its branches as one. They rose up in all directions, soon circling together above until they landed on the branches of a massive douglas fir. It was a stunning outburst on such a quiet morning and when I got home I hastily sketched it out and began painting.
Unfortunately at that point the piece was not at all what I had pictured in my head. I tried again, with the same results. Frustrated, I put the pieces aside. Every time I saw the tree I was reminded of the painting, of the image in my head and my inability to translate it onto paper. I finally realized that what I wanted out of the piece was the feeling I got from watching the crows exploding from this old, tangled tree. I had been trying to paint it too literally.
So I tried again, and even with this basic sketch I was already happier with the results.
I carried on, layering gouache over and over again until I found the rhythm I was looking for. I am so happy with the results. I imagine the crows surging out of the tree as one, off to conquer the world.
I’m pleased to say that after posting it to Redbubble Surge was added to the featured art on the site’s homepage. What a thrill!