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Patterns of Light and Dark

Dead River TreesPatterns of Light and Dark


I’m excited to share this latest painting with you. It was inspired by a walk I took along the Dead River at Illinois Beach State Park. I’ve always been drawn to the view I see peeking between the branches of trees, and this trio of trees really spoke to me. It was early in the year, before things had begun to green back up. A skin of ice is still on the river.

This is a large canvas~ 30″x40″, so laying in the layers of color was a satisfying exercise of big sweeping brush strokes. I usually start my paintings with an under painting in a complementary color and that is what I did here. As subsequent layers of color go on early layers peek through and this adds energy to the painting. Digital photographs don’t always capture this effect well but it worked with this one.

21 thoughts on “Patterns of Light and Dark

  1. Beautiful, Melissa!

  2. I’ve always like that view too, but struggle getting the composition right.
    This is lovely! Great Fall colors, and the water looks so calm. It’s a lovely spot to stop and breath. Exhaling the weight of the world then drinking in nature; letting that energy in to recharge and reset one’s center.

  3. Thank you Deborah! You know, when I am posting I am conscious of the glorious nature that surrounds you out there, and Gunta up in the PNW, and wonder how my landscapes seem to you. I love what you said about it being a space to recharge.

  4. Hoping WordPress will let me post a reply. Seems like it’s acting up again. Wouldn’t let me add a ‘like’ -though perhaps it thought it deserved a ‘love’!

    But this is a wonderful painting and scene. I LOVE the vibrant colors! It just knocked my socks off when the image popped up on my screen! To answer your (rhetorical?) question… your landscapes are marvelous. You make the scenes around you come alive and you do it the hard way! No easy push of a button for you! I’ve been given the gift of a stunning landscape to work with, but it takes real talent to show off the scenes you bring to us.

    Thanks for the mention, though! 😀

  5. I like watching people who can paint. It would be interesting to see you paint in a video speeded up 4x.

  6. Colors are beautiful.

  7. Wow! Love that combination of vivid colours and dark tones and forms! Beautiful! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Pete!

  8. The colors are lovely, but the dark bare trees are at the heart of what I love about this one.

    1. Thank you Tom. I really liked that contrast too.

  9. A beautiful, vivid landscape Melissa.

    1. Thank you so much!

  10. Yes indeed, the digital photo of your painting conveyed the work well. Nice going with this late-winter portrait of a tree-o.

    Having seen the Dead River only in June, I have trouble imagining it with ice on it. You’re fortunate to live close enough to see it through all the seasons.

  11. Love that~tree-o!

  12. You spoke about the energy in the painting; I think it’s increased by the movement I sense in the trees. Despite their lack of leaves, and the blackened trunks and limbs, it seems clear to me that they aren’t dead, but “sleeping” — waiting for their new season. There seems to be a qualitative difference between the trees themselves, and the branches on the ground. Very nicely done.

    1. Thank you! I’m always so pleased by what you see and articulate. You’re right, these are happy trees, just waiting to burst into leaf.

  13. With art, I have no experience or education. All I can say, is this is lovely and I’m glad I serendipitously dropped by 🙂

    1. I’m glad you did, too, Diana. Thank you!

  14. There is some powerful energy held in this painting, Melissa. Which is interesting for a spot containing part of a Dead River. 🙂
    Of all the rivers I have come across with that moniker, they have all been full of life 🙂

    1. This one included~I wish it had a nicer name. West of here there is a little river called the Apple River. Much better. We also have, in the same park, Dead Dog Creek. Nice.
      I’m so glad my painting spoke to you.

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