Flagstaff Mountain Tree

Drove up Flagstaff, parked at the gate, spent 45 minutes wandering the forest looking for a place to paint. It was warm-ish, clear, sunny and windless. I was surprised to see a fair amount of hikers on the trails. This makes it annoying to find a good location as one of my requirements is to be somewhere not easily seen. Too self-conscious! I feel like a mountain lion, skirting off-trail, around outcrops, under blowndown trees, trying to avoid human detection or interaction.

The forest felt like sensory overload. Every boulder, every pine felt dense with information, every vista too complicated to paint. I settled on painting a stumpy branch protruding from a trunk and casting a hard shadow. It was bothersome as I couldn't avoid a phallic reference. But I was drawn to both it's simplicity and it's quasi-tromp l'oeil aspect with the branch jutting out from the flat-looking bark.

The painting took 60 minutes and turned out nothing like what I was looking at. The colors were off, the paint felt too soft for the coarse and gnarly bark.

Today felt like two steps forward, one step back. I got reacquainted with painting in the forest and took several photos of various things while bushwhacking around. But too much time was spent trying to find a subject. I know this exploratory time is necessary but with a limited amount of time it grates on me. Also, the paintings seem to turn out better when I know what I'm after upon leaving the house. Starting with indecision rarely results in the good surprises/accidents.