Peach Trees

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Today is November 6, 2009. 

I drove back to the same section of orchards off of New England Road.  The gate was open but no one was in the field today, just me.  It was kind of strange being the only person there but it had a sense of familiarity to it.  When I was 7 years old we moved from the suburbs of Omaha to the country.  My parents were like pioneers.  They literally built a house in the middle of a cornfield.  We were the first of about 8 acreages that filled a newly zoned hundred acre section of farmland.  During the summers my brothers and I would spend hours wandering the corn fields, exploring the near-by creek or riding our bikes for miles down the dirt roads. 

We would go for long stretches of time without seeing a soul.  As other neighbors with kids built houses we became a small gang of kids and we went on countless adventures in the country.  One time, a neighbor boy named David came home with one of those 2 inch thick-hundred foot long ropes he “happened upon” somewhere.   He decided to tie it to the tallest tree in the creek and make a swing out of it.  This was no toe tipping creek.  This creek had a two-story drop and was usually only a one or two feet deep with water; but when it rained it would fill to the brim and move so fast and violently we were afraid it would wash away the bridge that everyone had to drive over to get to their house. 

David drilled a hole in a flat piece of two by four and tied the rope to it to make the seat of the swing.   The thrill of standing at the precipice of potential danger was exhilarating!  To actually step off the edge and swoosh and free fall with just a two by four and a rope was beyond daring, it was the biggest thrill I ever had!  (Keep in mind this was in the early 80’s; there was no such thing as zip lining or bungee jumping).  The meandering creeks, the tall trees and the vast expanse of fields take me back to those simpler times when I was a kid. 

I decided to leave the first painting of the apple trees at home and start a new one while that one dries.  This painting is from the peach orchards.  You can tell the difference by the leaves on the trees.  The peach trees have long narrow leaves and not one speck of fruit can be found hanging on a branch or the ground.  I attribute this to the fact that peach picking season was in the summer and that was long ago.  Bishops Orchards has a wine called blushing beauty that is a peach wine. 

I parked my car and set up my easel.  As I knelt on the ground to put paint on my pallet I looked up and decided this view from the ground was the most interesting.  I liked how the sky was shining through the low-lying branches and the thinning leaves.  Even though the sun was out the temperatures were cool and in the upper 40’s.  A bit chilly but as along as it isn’t below freezing the consistency of my paint is stable. 

When I start a painting I first mix alizarin crimson with equal parts sap green.  This mixture makes a rich warm brown.  I learned this from a painting teacher, Martha Meyer-Earlbacher when I was at the New York Academy.  It is a good way to quickly cover a canvas.  As much as a new white canvas makes me happy I like to cover it completely.  Then I use a wipe out tool to draw the scene before me.  If I don’t like the drawing I easily smooth it out with a brush and start over.  Once I am satisfied with the drawing I wipe off all the areas that are light and then paint in the colors.  Once I find the painting to be agreeable and the canvas has a solid layer of paint on it then I call it a day.

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