Wednesday, August 4, 2010


oil on canvas 51x41cm

I’ve been having a look at the different lights and translucencies through leaves and trees, and I wanted to explore what was going on when a tree is strongly lit directly full-on. This is quite a dramatic sycamore growing on Bruntsfield Links, just next to Bruntsfield Crescent.

Compositionally I think it works quite well – it’s fairly symmetrical, with the main subject dead centre and lit from straight behind the viewer. The open spaces between the clumps of leaves allow the silhouetting of the dark branches against the bright cloud (which wasn’t actually there but was pulled in from somewhere else).

Most of this was painted with the biggest brushes I could get away with (I’ve just bought a whole lot), and possibly I should have gone to the smaller sizes sooner. The brushwork is quite active, which I quite like, though maybe some of the leaf textures could have been done more convincingly with smaller, more considered, marks.

I’m not an expert in tree identification, and I say it is a ‘Sycamore’ (Acer Pseudoplatanus) because it matches the little pictures and description of a ‘Sycamore’ in my little Dorling-Kindersley ‘Trees’ book. My book also usefully adds, in a tiny footnote - ‘This species is known as a plane tree in Scotland but has no connection with the true planes (Platanus)’.

I don’t think a lot of people know that…