This painting was based on a smaller study that I posted several weeks ago. Doing a small study helps me work out my composition and color scheme, but it’s always a challenge to enlarge the piece and improve it without tightening up and losing the energy of the small piece.
For this painting, I started with a black gesso underpainting to establish the composition, and then applied transparent glazes in gold and red over the gesso. I added darks first, then the lights, and finally a variety of blue and green mid tones. The detail below shows the interaction of the transparent underpainting and the opaque layers.
To me this image is about looking through the trees and wondering what might have been there before and what might be in the future. As I searched for a title for this piece, my mind kept going to the sad news from Charleston this week. I was reminded of a hymn from my grandmother’s shaped notes Tabernacle Hymns with these words:
Oft we tread the path before us
With a weary, burdened heart;
Oft we toil amid the shadows,
And our fields are far apart:
But the Savior’s “come, ye blessed,”
All our labor will repay,
When we gather in the morning
Where the mists have rolled away.
We shall know as we are known,
Never more to walk alone,
In the dawning of the morning
Of that bright and happy day.
We shall know each other better,
When the mists have rolled away.
— from “When the Mists Have Rolled Away” by Annie Herbert
So I’m dedicating this piece to the memory of the nine people who were slain in Charleston this week and hope that “We shall know each other better when the mists have rolled away.”