Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Mark Hope's 'Sisters'
I recently checked out Mark Hope's 'Sisters' and was immediately struck by how effective a title he chose for this work. The name appropriately draws my attention to the gathering of spruce trees which are presented in the centre of his work.
I was struck, as a landscape painter, by the intricacy of Mark's brushwork and his carefully executed foliage.. Try it sometime. Its a lot harder then it looks. Its one thing to give give trees the suggestion of shape, and another to marrying them together into the general flow of the forest while at the same time, making allowance for the separation of appropriate distance marking values.
Mark's presents a rugged, but yet very beautiful forest. His pine trees are ragged, wobbly and irregular. And, for good measure he sticks in a few spindly trunks of dead trees with lots of twiggy branches sticking out.
I like the pattern of flow in this painting. Mark surrounds "The Sisters' with a sky, a forest background and a foreground which flows in an undulating, horizontal direction across the canvas and this both separates and distinquishes his vertical sisters.
I am enamoured by the colours Mark;s palette. How many ways can you paint a green forest and make it interesting? Mark sets the tone for his work with a colourful, evening sky where evening sunshine warms his branches with a variety of hues and colous. Anything but sap green!
While it may seem like a simple work - it's carefully painted and well crafted. All in all, a fine work which would look good on the wall of my study.
This painting came from a trip I took to Pukaska National Park on the north coast of Lake Superior. The 'Sister' are a stand of Black Spruce at the top of one of the many hills along the coast. It struck me that these trees were all approximately the same hieght and it was not much of a stretch to realize that they would have grown up together. Some had died, others survive, what winters these trees have seen. The black spruce has a very distinct shape that caught my eye immediately. A top knot of foliage with a scarred and bare trunk beneath. Dead branches extend like fingers. These are Tom Thompson trees, I did a very quick plein aire sketch of the stand and it became the basis of my larger studio painting. This may be the first of black spruce Ive done but the fascinating shape and location guarantees it will not be the last.
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