The Blasphemy of the Artist

| 24 January, 2015 11:57








"Only God can make a tree" proclaimed Joyce Kilmer in the poem we all learned in grade school. But artists can come close to imitating the range of colors and textures in the brilliant autumnal display, even if they can't quite breathe life into their creations.


This was a fun series to explore over the fall and into the early winter this year. In each case the actual leaf or twig was pasted down to the board on which I rendered a copy (sometimes in reverse, in a mirror image) in oil paint. The Latin phrase, "Ars Longa, Vita Brevis" translates roughly to 'Art lasts, life is short.'


And even though in many cases I coated the leaves in alkyd, thereby slowing the deterioration, the change is inevitable. In the first example, at top, there was no attempt to preserve the leaf on the right (from a tulip tree) and so the leaf is already quite a dark brittle brown. But I like the idea that as time goes on the difference between the the real and the rendered will become more apparent.


One problem with painting these was that as I worked the leaves continued to change and I tended to keep changing the painting as well to keep it accurate. I had to force myself to find a point at which to stop in nearly every case.