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BLEAK - OOC - 32" X 28"

I know this is not a pretty picture. It’s winter here so it’s cold and showery with lots of puddles. On the hill above my place they’ve been bulldozing the forest to make way for new streets and houses.  During the COVID19 lockdown I’ve been going for walks up there. I never see another soul up there and it looks so desolate.  Everything is so damaged and bleak. And yet there was still something that made me stop and wonder whether I could make a painting of it. The sky and distant hills were still there and some of the trees. Even the muddy holes made by the bulldozer tires might serve as compositional elements. So, this is what I came up with. I could do more to it. I don't know whether I'll finish it or not.

 I know it’s not a landscape anyone would want to hang on their wall but I just had to paint it as a sort of protest against the destruction.

I'd be interested to read comments/suggestions/critiques about whether it works, or could work, as a painting. 

Thanks  :)


They took all the trees
And put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to seem 'em

No no no
Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell



  • Well I really like it and I’m sure there would be plenty of buyers! The puddle is so great :)
  • edited June 10
    Thanks, @gar3thjon3s. Actually, when I was up there I remembered your recent puddle painting. So, you had something to do with it.  :)
  • @tassieguy I will try to copy this one in my own way. This is such a wonderful painting!
  • It's a terrific painting. I know what you mean. I've lived in my current abode 43 years. They have expanded the bridge and ruined the access to my favorite fishing spot. My second favorite spot was taken over by a golf course. The place where I walked to and hunted deer is now a subdivision with 1200 homes. Progress sucks.
  • edited June 10
    Cheers, @BOB73

    I guess it will have to end sooner or later. It needs to be sooner. I just hope there's enough natural world left for the young ones to realize the value of what has been lost already and that they need to keep and treasure what's left.  :)
  • @BOB73 @tassieguy I agree with this. Progress sucks esp for a painter and naturalists. Place where we shifted to in Dec 2018 was the most natural I've seen within a city with lots of sky, trees (big trees don't grow here though), empty land, farmland. Now when people started coming into this new city they separated the road from the lower land section and built lights, hoardings, more buildings etc. and within 5-10 years these farmlands will be gone for more buildings. Wild animals stopped coming here now. India has too many people and that impacts anything. Maybe within 100 years they would have to build apartment buildings on the mountaintops! It sucks really. I have to go to very remote places to see nature.
  • edited June 10
    Yeah, that's sad, @Kaustav. I think the birth rate will fall in India as its economy develops further. That's been the pattern elsewhere.

    We're fairly lucky down here. Tasmania is an island the size of Sri Lanka with just half a million people and 40% of the state is protected forever in World Heritage wilderness areas and other parks and reserves. The loggers and miners would love to get their hands on it but can't. Tourism is our biggest income earner. People come here because large parts of it are still wild and beautiful and it's sold as a clean and green holiday destination. I'd like to keep it that way. 
  • A very interesting painting , Rob.  
    Only you would stand there wondering if you could make a painting of it. 
    Most people would just keep walking, heads down , avoiding that huge puddle or getting their kids or dogs to avoid it. 
    But it’s the puddle that makes this painting. It draws you right into the scene and in my case , reminds me of wellington boots and jumping into puddles when I was a child. 
    We get a lot of rain in this Emerald Isle so I’m familiar with puddles. 
    This isn’t a pretty painting , as you already said , but it has your usual magic touch to it. Your ability to see something ordinary and give it atmosphere. That puddle alone would sell this painting.  
    To be honest , I think it’s up there with your best. 
    The sort of painting once seen , never forgotten. It tells a story. 
    Stefan Bauman ( one of the best art tutors on YouTube) says that paintings should always tell a story ....this certainly does. ❤️❤️❤️
    Are you now set up in your new studio?
    How are you finding your new easel ? 

  • Thanks so much, @Hilary. Glad you think it works.

    The studio and the easel are great. The room is considerably smaller than I had down on the farm but it's all I need - less space to hoard junk and easy to heat with a small heater.

    Cold here, now. Hope you're enjoying the summer over there on the emerald isle.   :)
  • I think that could work as a painting.  If there were at least a small patch of blue in the sky to give a little bit of hope I might feel better about it.
    i like the colors of the reflections in the puddle. 
  • A lot of rain here Rob. 
    Plenty of puddles for you to paint 😊 
    Glad you’re happy with your new studio. Have you still got a stove ? 
  • edited June 10
    Thanks, @GTO. There is actually a patch of blue up there but I have a very low ceiling in my new studio and the strong lights make  the camera over expose and wash out the top of the picture. I should have taken it outside to photograph.  :)
  • edited June 10
    No stove, @Hilary. The one I had down on the farm could have powered the Titanic but, boy, did it go through the wood! Cheaper and easier now to run a small electric heater. That's all I need. 

    You'll enjoy the sunshine and warmth of summer even more after the rain. And the rain keeps your lovely island green.  :)
  • edited June 10
    You've given me an idea, @GTO.

    I'll go back there on a partly cloudy day with more blue patches and with clouds moving across the sky so that there will be shafts of sunlight illuminating patches of the desolation - the pile of bulldozed trees and the sign for example. That would provide some respite from the gloom and make it more dramatic.  :)
  • @tassieguy, no doubt in my mind, it does work as a painting as is. I'm continually thrilled by your ability to find and then portray atmosphere. You create such strong feelings with your work. And your detail work is just amazing. Always look forward to seeing what you're doing. You're a true artist while so many of us do no more than copy what we see.
  • @tassieguy that sound like a good plan.  Overcast days flatten everything.
  • Thanks so much for your kind words, @ArtistMartin1:)
  • Oh this is amazing and in such a delicate composition, I can tell you put a lot of design and thought into it, the position of the puddles, the horizon and the negative spaces is all very organic and effortless looking but that’s the geniality behind it... wow!
  • Thank you. @RUESGA. I'm happy you think it works.  :)
  • That looks great.  The atmospheric effects are excellent and the colors in muddy puddle are perfect.
  • Thanks, @GTO. Still a bit more blue to go in the sky. I should have it finished by tomorrow.  :)

  • It's very well done and adding more blue was a good move. It doesn't detract from the melancholy mood. If I was seven, I wouldn't be able to resist stomping in that puddle. It's a shame all those trees in a big pile dead from bulldozer disease. At least the trees removed in our area to make way for new homes were harvested and went to the mill to make plywood and lumber.
  • This looks ridiculously real.
  • Nice Rob, only you could turn a scene of destruction into an artwork. I’ve been in recently clearfelled mountain ash forest before. It is quite confronting. 
  • Thanks, @Roxy. Yeah, it is confronting. It's not just the trees but all the birds and animals that depend on them. They're lost, too. It's a good thing that 40% of Tasmania is protected.  :)
  • Very realistic! Good work. Can you take an up close photo from the distance you are when painting? It is a large work so I imagine you are mostly looking at dots and swirls when painting. I want to see what it's like to be in your chair.
  • Looks excellent! I like your new sky quite well too. One of the first things that struck me hard is the fact that in such a scene there is not even one tiny trace of wildlife.
     On the other hand this could be used to bring attention to a specific endangered little bird, by including the bird perched on a dead tree branch in the scene and when finished, title the painting using the bird's name. Just food for thought.
     Once again absolutely great work!
  • edited June 12
    Thanks, @lightbulb3900

    You're right - up close my paintings are just blobs and squiggles. 

    I don't have a chair. I stand. Sitting cramps my freedom with the brush and I need to continually stand back to see if the strokes I've just laid in are right.   But,  yes, I'll take another photo of it on the easel from close up. But you'll just see blobs and squiggles. The above photos were taken from the distance to which I retreat to view each new brushstroke.  Up close it's blobs and squiggles.  Up close, I don't want my work to look like a photo.  I hope to make paintings and not reproductions of photos. And I like to leave some work for the viewer so they engage more with the painting and so they can feel my presence in the brushwork and can enjoy the texture. I have a strong conviction that, in painting, realism is not the same thing as photographic exactitude. If people wanted a good photo of a landscape they could get it from a good landscape photographer. 

     I'm still learning and my efforts are not always successful. I'm hoping my failure rate decreases as I continue trying to get my paintings to look right.

    Glad you think it looks realistic from a distance.  :)
  • edited June 12
    Thanks, @Forgiveness. Most of our forest animals are nocturnal. On the day I was there and made sketches there was not a bird to be seen. Their homes had been destroyed and I guess they'd gone elsewhere in search of new ones. Maybe a lone vulture circling overhead would add life to the devastation.  :)
  • We have "Turkey vultures" where I live. Lol!
  • Crikey!  I can’t remember when I last saw such “realistic” realism.  You’ve given me something to aim for.
  • @tassieguy.
    the realism that you were doing with the shorelines translates well in this painting.
     What is the little box or sign on the tree on the right?

  • Thanks, @GTO. :)

    The small sign nailed to the tree says, "Private. Keep out". 
  • Another great piece 

  • romanroman -
    edited June 24
    @tassieguy I plan to start a journey through your huge museum. I'll start from here. As with meeting with each of the several works that I saw, the first impression is how can a person do this? I will never do this ... Without an increase, it seems that the work is ultra-realistic, that is, so close to photography that even after a few steps of enlargement it is impossible to decide whether it is photography or not (I don’t like such works, they are most often soulless, although they require some skill). But here, even after the first step, you see that this was done by a firm and infinitely skillful hand. Brush strokes are wide enough and defined, and it remains to wonder how they merge at a distance into such a thinly nuanced surface that breathes life. I’ve been interested in art for 60 years and I know it from cave paintings to the present day, but I haven’t seen a similar technique (mosaicism was common but here is something quite different). 
  • romanroman -
    edited June 24
    @tassieguyThe nuances of color and tone are fantastic. I would love to hang this picture on the wall and think for hours in front of it with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.  Oddly enough, I would prefer the first version of the sky, although this is absolutely not fundamental. Bravo!
    P. S. What is the motivation for tightly defined gaps between branches or foliage? It seems to me like your brand name ...
  • @roman , I think tassieguy's skill with painting can be attributed to his life  spent in developing his skills with words. He approaches a scene to be painted like an etymologist might look at a poem, disecting each word to find the core essence and how it nuances the phrase in which it resides. So too he divides his canvas and chooses each brush stroke with a clear purpose of enhancing the last stroke and the next making a perfect painting in a small square like a word in a poem. When all the squares are done they combine to make a single beautifully composed painting the way words can be composed to make a beautiful poem.
  • edited June 26
    Thanks, that's very kind praise. @BOB73.  And beautifully said. I only paint in sections for highly detailed areas but you captured the essence of my technique. :)

    And thanks, @roman.  I do try to maintain the integrity of each brushstroke. When I try blending it always ends badly. Maybe landscapes (unlike portraits) just don't lend themselves to blending.

    If you do a tour of my paintings I hope you will pass by the failures without comment. I've only been painting for about four years so my success rate is still much less than 100%.

    About the trees:  Australian evergreen eucalyptus trees just look this way. They have long slender branches that are bare of leaves until the ends. The sun is strong here and our trees don't lose their leaves in winter so I guess they don't need so many leaves with which to eat the sun.  All this means that their canopies have lots of slender sky holes around the branches. The sky holes let light through to the understory plants beneath so they get some sun to eat, too. 

    And the sky holes are great fun to paint so I, too, am grateful for them.   :)
  • @tassieguy I cannot imagine you painting a failure.  
  • edited June 26
    Thanks, @GTO. Three paintings ago I did 'Tidal Flats' which was awful. Partly because I got into blending. It's a trap I fall into when I can't figure out (or don't stop and think about) what else to do.   :/

     I want to do that one again.  :)
  • romanroman -
    edited June 25
    @tassieguy, @BOB73, @GTO In a previous post, I did not exactly put it, I had in mind sharp edges of skyholes. I also can't imagine @tassieguy paint a failure, considering everything else. Now I understand that this should be due to the special properties of the leaves, and does not occur in Europe. Yesterday, I forgot to mention an unusual mood, a feeling of dankness and a physical sensation of rain showers. Whatever we say here, for me a lot remains a mystery and does not reduce admiration. If they gave me such a task, I would take a photo the size of a picture, possibly in Photoshop using filters slightly converted to oil. But I’m sure that I wouldn’t manage anyway. And only four years!
    @BOB73 I can't find your paintings among your discussions. You are so deeply aducated in art, much better than many professors in art academies! 
  • I'm sorry @roman but your praise for me is misplaced. I have no education in art only a vague understanding gleaned mainly from this forum and the internet. My less than vast experience comes from painting crafts and things. All my attempts at painting with oils have been failures. I can draw a little and I have a good eye for composition learned mainly from my father's photography. I am however an expert on procrastination, impatience and frustration. I think I have had a little success in helping  other forum members dealing with their own and hopefully gave them encouragement. I give good advice on occasion because I remember what has worked for other members and the advice given at the time by the real learned professors. Unfortunately only a few are left. So I remain to offer encouragement to others but keep watching, I've been practicing mixing and one day will post my masterpiece.
  • @BOB73
    Talented people can do without formal education. Many people have certificates and do not know anything. Your role is very noble and your comments, as I can judge by myself for two years, add confidence and inspire. We are social animals, and we are glad for the response of our soul mates. If you let me give advice, I would recommend to start with working a pastel in a representative style and playing with oil in an abstract style. The latter, however, is expensive: you need large canvases and a lot of paint. Incidentally, I really love abstractionists Serge Polyakoff and Nicolas de Stael (the so-called second Paris school of abstract art). They can inspire! Their works must be watched in good resolution, because the texture of the paint is very important. I think you know them. Remain a lifeguard (this seems to confirm the photo of your profile), and I will look forward to your comments and masterpieces. 
  • romanroman -
    edited June 26
    @tassieguyI looked at all your available works and in the end I was tired of setting hearts. They cause shock. Serat did his mediocre works for three years one, and you have dozens a year! I still can’t imagine how making work in fragments you can achieve such integrity. 
    If you do not use any computer program to decompose the photographic image into brush strokes, then this is a colossal intellectual work and a new word in painting and the pinnacle of divisionism and is worthy to go down in the history of art. 
    At some point, I, as the father of Picasso, wanted to put down my brushes and paints and not touch them anymore, but of course I will continue to go my own modest and fairly standard way, portraying what I know and how I can. 

    I would give a lot to watch at least an hour-long video about your work. I wish you health, inspiration and success in your titanic work.
  • Man your work has ambiance like crazy... it’s perfection. Your color perception is too good!
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