(Posted by Bill)
This painting is done on a small, black Richeson Pastel Surface on Gatorfoam. I like using black, and consider John Singer Sargent an ally in that.
Usually, my favorite part of a painting is the finishing highlight touches, and when working on black I can start with the highlights. The tricky part is that you can't brush anything off the black surface and get back to a strong black; all you get is various grays. Of course you can use a black pastel to get back to black, but layering on the black pastel will get muddy.
You might wonder why that branch is green. It's covered with moss. Moss won't grow well on a vertical surface like the trunk but grows quite well on the more horizontal branch.
I tried to paint this tree on location when we were at Blair Castle in Perthshire, Scotland, this last summer. But I lost the battle with wind, rain and cold. However that plein air experience taught something about moss, from its colors to how it grows on the tree trunks. Without that experience, I probably would have looked at the photo and decided it was too weird.
Above: Mossy Tree, 5x7, pastel, ©Bill Canright, $75