Thursday, May 22, 2008

Horses in Oil Paint, Death of a Tree

Well, of course I had to do the horses in another medium. I was wondering if oil would be better at capturing the backlight I'm so fond of. I think that it did, though I'm not sure it makes a better paining. I guess I'll just say that both have their good points and their bad points.

As I walked the dogs one day last week I saw that a massive tree that was beside Dog Island Pottery had been cut down. There was nothing left but a stump and a lot of trunk sections and branches of various sizes lying around. The hole left in the landscape is very intrusive, changing the shape of the sky from delicate lace to a blast of exploding light. It used to be that the shadow of that tree decorated the road, too. It looked soft underfoot, cool and dappled. Now a uniform flat square of gray pavement has replaced the pattern.

Ten years ago I painted that tree in winter, the blue shadows on the snow reaching out toward the viewer. That, too, was backlit, and the sun squeezed out between the branches and around the trunk. There were several smaller trees, birches, that stood close by, casting supporting shadows. It was never one of my favorite paintings, but I was fond of it. Now it's all that's left.

The day after the tree was cut down, some giant machine pulled up the stump and roots, then flattened the ground where it had been until nothing remained but tread marks from the oversized tires. Against the nearby building were several stacks of neatly cut logs. They were amazingly uniform. As human beings love to do, each log had been make tidy, fitting perfectly against its neighbor.

All I could think of was so many steaks wrapped uniformly and displayed in rows on the meat counter at the grocery store. The cattle had met the same fate as the tree, killed, chopped up, trimmed, and readied for consumption. We like to make things prettily distant from their source before we use them up.
Posted by Picasa

No comments: