A Pine Tree Sketch

Here’s a pine tree study. A simple, non-revolutionnay pine tree study. Because when I paint outside, my focus is on observing, not inventing.

I keep a receptive attitude, open to register colors, movements, smells, and everything up to the tingling of the pine needles. There is a selective process going on, there has to be (I did not paint each branch individually, nor every crack of the bark), but the exercise is one of careful study.

Not every artist goes through that process, but it is essential for me. These conscientious studies teach me; they feed my imagination, grounding it in reality. And they allow me to be in contact with what I want to express that lies on a more subtle plane.

How close do I need to be to the real thing? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. Each sketch expresses what I could capture, then and there.

As I work on these sketches, a dialogue is formed between what I notice (Did I grasp the essence of this pine tree? Did I manage to express the splendor of it, the strength of it’s trunk or the softness of it’s foliage? How about that swooping sound the wind makes in the branches? Can I ever get all of this???) and what I intuitively perceive, that lies beyond the sensory impressions.

It is this subtle perception I am after. It reveals itself while I am sketching a tree or a lake. It comes casually, when I am attentive, not searching for it.

Louise Jalbert, “Pine Tree, lac Paré, July 27th, 2018”, Watercolor on paper, Moleskin Album, 8 x 23 inches