Both paintings ©Kesler Woodward 2008
Acrylic on canvas
Each 20" x 16" (image)
Each 21 1/2" x 17 1/2" (framed)
These two new paintings, a commission for friends in Seattle, have proved a fascinating puzzle and good challenge for me over the last month. The collectors wanted two images of the sort I have been painting in my "Epiphany" series of views of the winter forest, looking into the sun, but they wanted something more specific as well. The paintings are intended for the same wall, on opposite sides of a table, to function almost as "windows" looking out on a low sun, bright but twilit winter scene.
I painted the one that actually incorporates the low sun first, essentially completing it and feeling very happy with it. Then I turned to the second scene, which needed to feature the same light, but not be contiguous with the first, since the "windows" are to be substantially separated. Without the dramatic, guttering sun, I knew it had to be subtler, and at least as much about light as about trees, branches, and snow. I worked on it for some time, and was pretty pleased with it, but kept feeling that I wanted something more. This is the kind of situation that normally drives me crazy, but fortunately, Missy and I had a trip planned to Germany, where I would work for a week with a company that collaborates with artists around the world to do major glass and mosaic installations. That trip, and what it may lead to, is a story for another time, but in terms of these paintings, it was a godsend.
When I returned and looked at the two paintings with fresh eyes, I knew that the second one had to have more. The two canvases needed to work together, but they were to be two paintings, not one painting with two panels, and so each had to have a separate character, while working in concert. I completely reworked the sky in the second painting, dramatically increasing the left-to-right transition toward twilight, with its eerie colors, and pushing the intensity of the hues in the branches more and more radically. Up close, it is almost mosaic-like in the complexity of the colors in the branches, the flickering light on the winter forest.
Nearly completing the second canvas necessitated changes in the first, and around and around I went for another few days, finally just yesterday realizing I was happy with both--individually and in concert. Another day of fixing and adjusting, and they were done. These are small paintings, but the desire of the collectors for a specific kind of effect, and my excitement at trying to achieve it, made the entire process a challenging but immensely rewarding one.