Monthly Archives: October 2013

Seasons change

Tomorrow, Oct 29th, is the last day of  the exhibition “What the Trees Say,” and another exhibition, “TREEaction,” will start forming in Spring Street Gallery, with a reception on Nov. 7th.  It is a celebration of Saratoga’s trees and a meditation on the power of activism that Saratoga’s trees have inspired.

The now-ending exhibition of my work has called attention to the trees and the similar role they play in art and in the fabric of the city.  If we take them for granted, we won’t be inspired to advocate for the Urban Forest and follow through on the Master Plan.

With a shifting of artwork, it’s a good time to focus on the current change of seasons and how I’ve been inspired by it over the years. In my early work I  welcomed the vibrant color after a summer of greens  As with many trees in my works from the late 70’s, a number of the maples seen from my studio have disappeared. Click on the titles to see more about each piece (those with numbers have been in the exhibition).

Lines Down Lincoln                                            Autumn Down Lincoln

1977 Lines Down Lincoln_  9.5x8 in_wc_7029                  1978 Autumn Down Lincoln_12-5x 5 in_ wc_7104

For some, I emphasized the contrast between fleeting color and ever-green

Hanging on                                                 43. Autumn Patterns  (sold)

1980 Hanging On_9-5x8 in_wc_7333              1978 Autumn Patterns_4-75x7-25_wc_7106

In the way that I love that the first dots of spring color enliven the linear patterns of branches, I also celebrate the way that the last leaves cling and dance after most have fallen. In this watercolor, the simple strokes of paint  barely hold on to the space.

7. Fading Fall  (sold)

1978 Fading Fall_5-5x8 in_wc_7176

That time of late fall, with its pairing of color with the re-emerging  linear rhythms, has inspired several that make use of the lines of architecture that are activated by the juxtaposition with the trees.

37. Fall Porch                          4. Orange Out Front (sold)

1989 Fall Porch_13x9 in_wc_721.               1984 Orange Out Front_21x12 in pastel_254

And in the park I found the juxtaposition of the tree in its final flourish of color with the memorial for those soldiers who have fallen, each speaking to the passage of time.

41. October Memorial

1993 October Memorial_7-75x7-75 in_wc_1187

While this painting is mainly a celebration of color, I also had fun with using a raking light in a painting about raking and trying to control the color that has fallen

15. Raking

1988 Raking_48x36 in_oil on canvas_641

One fall, the color in my neighbor’s tree was so amazing that I climbed out on the flat roof to paint two studies of the light from the contrast of the bright orange with the dark limbs. In the first one I included the roof, and then abandoned the reference to free up the visual energy.

Fall Study I                                                     13.  Fall Study II  (sold)

medium_1182    1993 Fall Study II_8x10-5_wc_1183

As a last image, I’ll include a small study of the elm at the back of the Algonquin Parking lot. When years ago I painted it from far away, I thought it was a maple, since it was yellow and it was on Maple Avenue. Most of the beautiful maples were removed by the city years ago when work was done on the parking lots. Now that I know this is an elm, I see it as one of the survivors from the era of so many elms lining Broadway and around town.

44. Downtown Color

1992 Downtown Color_7x7-5 in_wc_1063

As with all trees, eventually they will be gone, and for this elm survivor, I will again have been an inadvertent historian of lost trees in the water color above and the more recent works, Fireworks Elm and Elm Ascent. I hope this elm remains even when the parking lot gets re-developed.  The work of the Urban Forestry Project will continue to advocate for the care of Saratoga’s trees and appropriate plantings. Meanwhile I’ll keep working on the paintings and hybrid works and paying attention to what the trees say..

Elm Ascent    Hybrid media, 2013

.diggory elm ascent  800px           anne at work 2



Morning Intersection

The wide, arching spread of the tree in front of the Saratoga Springs Post Office has always  delighted my eyes, particularly with the way that its curves echo the arches of the building’s architecture. I have photographed the pairing in several seasons and from various angles, and until today had not quite settled on which version to paint instead of photograph.  I particularly liked the angle from directly across the street, in which the lines of the crosswalk added a counterpoint to linear rhythms of the tree limbs.

Several months ago I finally saw the lighting that would bring out that relationship — the morning sun casting a curved shadow from the tree onto the building — and I knew I would be back to paint it. Finally today, inspired by the lightening of the color of the leaves at the top of the tree and the warm fall light,  I was inspired to spend four hours there (and another three in the studio) to capture the dynamic relationships in an 8×10 inch painting.

. oct 3 near finish 800px


I’ll explain here a bit of the process of creating the painting and the experience of standing on the main intersection in town, talking to people about both the painting and my current exhibition at the Spring Street Gallery that calls attention to the changing treescape of the city. That exhibition of 35 years of painting ends Oct 29th and will be followed by TREEaction: Art, Activism and Saratoga’s Changing Treescapes, which will include some works from the current exhibition.

Here is a photo of the scene, a bit after the shadow on the building had lowered. The front only stayed lit for about an hour, so I worked on that first after laying in the structure.


oct 3 post office tree


I laid out the basic structure on a gessoed panel, eliminating most of the street so that the composition closed in on the tree.

WIP Oct 3

As with other times that  I have been working on treesscapes related to the exhibition, I was intrigued by how my presence on the street, making art, affected how people observed the actual scene. Most assumed I was painting the building, not the way that the tree arched over the space and added so much to the whole scene. They took time to look at it and with my suggestions, looked at the way its shape magnified the curves of the architecture. And then looked up and down the street at other trees. Most had never even thought about what the trees contributed to the space. So a nice combination of Art and Activism

anne at work Oct 3

At the end of four hours, most was laid out, but I wanted to establish the shadow on the building, figure out better cars and distance, crisp up the  shapes and improve the sense of light with darkening the shadows and making the tree more interesting and volumetric.

wip after plein air

And then after working in the studio – :

oct 3 b near finish 800px

I’ll look at it in another painting session to consider what else needs to be done (or undone).

And then think about what other “intersections” of the tree and post office I would like to paint, draw or create hybrid images of.  I also like the way the tree fills the space as I look from my car, driving down church street. Or the winter version with the limbs spreading out like the structural elements of a fan. Or combine both ideas. The possibilities are endless.

winter  PO  141_0038