blue tit foraging on pollard branch

oil on canvas, 1010mm x 760mm
private collection

studies

The approach was Cezanne inspired. I'm short sighted, and to help me attend to the colours I made several studies without wearing my glasses. The top study is of the colour world of outer canopy leaves, the lower of colour within the lower branches.
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private collection

seeing and noticing / art and science

In the winter, while I was working on the painting, Dr Chris Gibson from Natural England visited the tree and we spent over an hour walking round it as he pointed out many things that I had seen, but not noticed. My most dramatic failure had been not to notice the pollard branches in front of my nose, even though I'd spent hours painting their colours in both studies...

 

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Chris is showing what pollard branches do - there are several behind him. Oak branches have a natural zig-zag pattern, evolved to fit leaves into spaces between branches of competing trees. You can see this pattern in the top left of the finished picture. But if an oak loses a low branch, and here most of the lowest branches had been cut back to clear the hedge, it saves energy by shooting out a straight branches with leaves only at the tips, where the sunlight is. The speed of growth also effects the texture and colour of the new bark.

Learning this, I then noticed that the pale yellow-olives in the oil studies belonged to pollard branches -  and the central one of these in my study then became a focus of attention in the final painting. Zoom in to the finished picture at the top of the page and you will see what I mean.

Without Chris's explaination this change would not have happened. The attention in the final image would have been more dispersed, and the painting would have had a different title. It's a good example of an integrated collabouration between art and science.

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Email: st@stephentaylorpaintings.com

Phone: +44 (0)1353 667014

Letter: Coach House, 7 Douglas Court, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4SE, UK

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