Tag Archives: trees

Tree in a Gray Place

Acrylics, 14″ x 11″ on masonite, February, 2019.

I have the feeling this tree stands along the road near the ocean and it’s a chilly day, not quite raining. You need your nice thick sweater to feel comfortable as you walk, and thank goodness you brought enough money to stop at the cafe and get some hot chocolate. You pick up your steps and hurry on, leaving the tree, perfectly content, in its place.

There’s the story I thought of, anyway.

Tree in a Gray Place 14 x 11 2-195

Revisits: Abuse

I did some illustrations for an event at Fictive Dream, an online fiction magazine specializing in short stories. It’s called “Revisits”. In it, the magazine revisits “the best of the back catalog”, as editor Laura Black says. Every two weeks through August, a different theme will be explored.

Look here for the first post, Love, which also offers an overview of the parameters of the art aspects of this project.

Today, April 24, the theme is Abuse. Here’s the image:

Image 3 Final Revised blog

In earlier projects for Fictive Dream, I made a couple of images for each story. I followed that trend with the earlier Love and with this one, Abuse. At this point in the project, I was still feeling my way in getting the look that Laura wanted. We had developed some specifics from our experience with Love; the tree motif was established as was the general layout of the images – sky, ground, tree, and text all had a specific place.

For this image, my first thought was to create one with a bruised feeling to it. I came up with this one, featuring the purple tones and trees pushing each other:

Image 3 blog

And my next idea was to do one that was less dramatic but still had the bruise colors in it, this time yellows and pale purples, with a battered-looking tree:

Image 4 blog

When I showed them to Laura, she made a request: could the tree on the yellow one be put into the purple scene?

At this point, I had not done all the digital work to Love that you saw in the previous post; remember, Love was reworked at the end of the string of images for the project. You may imagine – Laura’s words struck fear into my heart – could I do it?

Of course, I could take my scissors, cut out the tree in the yellow image, collage over the trees in the purple image, glue in the tree, and hope the picture would scan well – the standards for the actual physical image did not need to be as high as if I were selling it as a framed piece, thank goodness, because in real life, layers add a lumpy look to collage if you do too much of them, and it distracts from the piece.

Still, I didn’t like the idea. I decided to try the digital route and see if I could get it to work. I used Adobe PhotoShop Elements 15. First, I copied small sections of the ground and sky in the purple scene and used them to cover the trees, taking care to vary my selections and blend them in well.

Then I went to the yellow image and extracted the black trees using the
Quick Selection Tool (located at the top of the tool bar to the left of the screen, in the Select section). With a little work, this tool allowed me to pick out the tree and copy it to the purple image.

Then I added the text and voila! The job was done.

Image 3 Final Revised blog

Not only did I have the image Laura wanted, but I felt that I could use this technique, if I had to, for other images. It gave me a measure of comfort – if an image required some tweaking, that did not mean creating an entire new collaged image.

And as you remember, it did come in handy, allowing me to improve the Love image later on.

Thanks for reading! And take a look at the stories:  here at Fictive Dream.

Tree-Like Abstracts

These small paintings were made in October, 2018. Acrylics on canvas board, 7″ x 5″.
I think they look like trees. Not that they have to look like anything if they don’t want to.


Let’s continue the tree theme. Two small paintings do not make a forest, no, but they are a start.

Acrylics, October, 2018, 7″ x 5″.

Revisits: Love

I did some illustrations for an event at Fictive Dream, an online fiction magazine specializing in short stories. It’s called “Revisits”. In it, the magazine revisits “the best of the back catalog”, as editor Laura Black says. Every two weeks through August, a different theme will be explored.

Today, April 10, the theme is Love. Here is the illustration:

Image 2d blog

A little background on this illustration. Laura asked me to come up with a series of images that, unlike the other projects I’ve done for Fictive Dream, did not portray a specific story but rather a theme or idea. She outlined parameters for me – to summarize, she was looking for a simple direct image that could reflect the theme of each section but could relate back to the others in the group.

The effect was to be more restrained than the abstract work I did for Flash Fiction February and the pictures needed to be non-specific – in other words, the illustration should not refer to one story or another. I did not in fact read any of the stories but instead focused on the meaning of each one of the themes.

I decided to work in collage and I used papers that I painted myself (acrylics on white sketch paper). I used a horizontal landscape background and decided on the motif of the tree for the recurring image. So, each illustration featured sky, land, and tree(s), plus text that I superimposed digitally in approximately the same location in each picture.

Laura gave me her vision of color schemes and I compared it to my own ideas to come up with appropriate illustrations for each theme.

It’s harder than you think to illustrate an abstraction of thought – the choices are endless. Love was the first one I worked on and it went through many variations. I started with two choices:

Well, from here, I can’t remember the entire sequence, but between altering these two versions both digitally and in reality, there were a lot of versions we chewed over before the final selection was made. For one thing, we decided all the trees should be black. And that since the text was dark, the sky would always need to be pale.

Take a look at the variations. The blue sky version got eliminated fairly early on, and then we worked with the pink ground, with some changes dramatic and others subtle.

In the end, the final selection was a combination that exists only in the digital world – a version including the brighter red/pink ground of the orange tree image with the stronger trees added digitally. And this selection was finalized only at the end of the project – I made all the others and then we reconsidered this one.

Image 2d blog

In all cases, I was striving for a picture in which the trees seemed to interact, leaning toward each other and crossing branches. Love is connection. And stories about it feature that topic in one way or another.

Read the stories: Fictive Dream.