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The Trees Come Marching In, Hurrah, Hurrah…

DSCN6118 Working intensively in my studio can make me feel like I’ve been underwater for quite awhile.  When I went in, the temps outside were in the teens…today it is 53 and rainy.  Perfect!  Well.  If you like that sort of thing, which I do.

So here you can see the next step in the painting.  I begin roughing in the background, in this case, the trees and fence.  I rather liked this, but then I remembered that my client wanted the canopy of the main tree to show.  That required some finessing, to squash a tall tree into a horizontal format.  Things had to shift.


I like to stay in contact with my clients so they can offer input.  A lot of artists abhor this, but to me, if I’m not hearing from the client, then how do I know they like what they are getting?  The painting is for them, after all.


So we went back and forth a little bit, moving dogs around.  Here is the final version.  I delivered it yesterday and was absolutely bowled over by her response.  What a privilege it is to make someone happy doing something I love to do.

37 thoughts on “The Trees Come Marching In, Hurrah, Hurrah…

  1. Beautiful, and so delicate.

    1. Thank you Maria 🙂

  2. Fabulous colors, light in the sky, and composition.

    1. Thank you 🙂 This painting had its moments of doubt, but we (the painting and I) made it!

      1. Never doubted that! 🙂

      2. I like the way you said “we,” meaning the painting and you.

      3. Ha! I guess that is how I think of it…

  3. Very interesting. I like the way you work. It is fun to see the changes and improvements.

    My wife is a quilter. She does similar things with changing the arrangements of fabric pieces, colors, patterns, etc. I even get called in as a consultant. 🙂

    On this post, I asked her to look over my shoulder at your 3 photographs. She liked what she saw. (I thought that was sly of me)

    1. Heh heh, yeah, very! I’m so glad she does. My ex-husband is my go-to guy when I’m not sure what to do next with a painting. 🙂

      1. I often get asked color consultant questions. Odd…I am a little color blind to shades of red-green-grey.

  4. I can understand why the client is pleased – its turned out beautifully and the dogs are great – they add life. I can see why the landscapr format might be a challenge but you’ve dealt with it well. I looked at some of your work on the internet and saw a painting of the Chicago Botanical Gardens – now that was just fabulous. Such talent.

    1. High praise indeed, Andrew~ thank you. I thought you might like the dogs 🙂

  5. This is a delightful commission piece, Melissa. I would be happy too. And it is a treat to see the evolution of the painting as you make your changes. And I also think it wise to consult with the client. It is much better than her telling you she wished the dogs were placed differently.
    Is that Virginia Creeper creeping up the tree? 🙂

  6. Why yes it is, Steve 🙂 I thought of you guys as I painted that in…the one growing up my tree may have gone mildewy, but in the studio I could make it glow! Thank you for your kind comments.

  7. Is that Virginia creeper creeping colorfully up the tree trunk? I’m still seeing some in central Texas, but poison ivy is now the most conspicuously colorful vine on trees (usually yellow rather than red).

    1. Oops, I just read upward and saw that Steve Gingold asked the same question and that you answered it. As a painter you have the freedom to unmildew a plant that photographers don’t have (except maybe a very skilled used of Photoshop).

      1. Great minds think alike 🙂 It is true. I often envy the nimbleness inherent in photography compared with the time it takes to make a painting. However, if I don’t like something a swipe of the brush takes care of it.
        Of course, I realize nimbleness is relative~ you guys work hard, carrying equipment into the field and analyzing how to get the shot you are after.

      2. I’m all too aware that my camera bag (with standard equipment in it) weighs 14–15 lbs. It often throws me off balance.

      3. 15 pounds? I wish mine was that. But I carry it all sans tripod in a backpack camera bag so it is balanced. Unfortunately I am not and I fall occasionally.

      4. Oh dear! It does appear that the terrain you cover can be tricky going. Makes the beautiful photos you share all the more precious.

      5. It can be quite taxing, especially for a geezer like me. 😉 I carry about 35 pounds plus an 8 pound tripod. It’s pretty rough on the way out of some Quabbin gates as they run downhill towards the water. My own fault as I foolishly believe I need everything in the bag, despite using the same three lenses most of the time. It provides some good aerobics during the uphill returns. 🙂

      6. Yeah, and far more interesting than weights in a gym 🙂

      7. Absolutely, Melissa. I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day.

      8. I’m beginning to realize what an athletic sport you guys participate in!

  8. My camera bag weighs closer to 20lbs. It’s a huge reason I bought the Nikon Df…trying to lighten my load. I keep telling myself my doctor and bones will be happy, but it doesn’t get any easier! Melissa do you ever take your easel out in the field? I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph a few artists in the field with their gear. They have a lot of stuff too, and usually a cart to haul it all.

    1. Oof~20lbs! Just think how strong and fit you must be to do that! Several years ago I was given a nifty French easel and so I dragged that thing out into the field a few times. I felt there was no percentage in it~ you have to stand in one place too long and the biting flies find you, or the paint dries (or freezes) or the light changes or is too harsh. I would get home and be very disappointed by what I had done. Then, mercifully, the easel broke 🙂

  9. LOL! That’s funny. I wonder what type of paints the artists I saw outdoor used. They seemed very content. The ladies brought chairs to sit and paint, and the men stood.

  10. How beautiful your painting is and what an interesting insight into your process. I was going to ask how hard it would be to paint on commission but writers do it too. You must enjoy the challenge.

    1. Hello, Mary 🙂
      Thank you for stopping by and for you kind comment. I never thought about a writer working on commission but of course, all creatives do, don’t we? I do enjoy the challenge very much. I’m going to hop over to your blog now!

  11. Melissa – thank you for sharing the steps and process. The end result is lovely. I find it so hard to work on commission, I stress over the whole process, only because I care, as you do. I’m so happy your customer was all on board. Cheers! Kim

  12. Hello Kim! Yes, she was lovely to work with. I read a wonderful quote yesterday: “Worrying is a prayer for what you don’t want!” That got me thinking!

  13. You are very clever .. I would love to paint. Thanks for stopping by Frog Pond Farm 🙂

    1. Thank you Julie 🙂 I’m so pleased to have found your delightful blog!

      1. Thank you 🙂

  14. Thanks for giving us a look behind the scenes during the progress you made on this painting. It’s beautiful. Seeing the changing positions of the dogs in these pictures makes it look like they went back in time. Very nice work!

    1. My pleasure, Dan. Yeah, it is kind of fun to see the dogs move around, isn’t it? Thank you very much, I’m glad you like it!

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