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Old Gnarly Charlie

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

My first plein air of the Spring season is Gnarly Charlie. Charlie can be found at Marshview Meadows Park in Pittsfield Township, Michigan. He sits in the sedge meadow off the boardwalk, if you plan to take a stroll through the park. Pay Charlie a visit. Perhaps he will shake a limb at you.

Gnarly, creepy tree
Gnarly Charlie

I was at the park on Monday April 19th at 2:00, and had about one hour before the winds kicked up and a few drops of rain started to fall. It was a gray day but I did not let that grayness get in the way of capturing Charlie's character. A little bit of soft sunlight helped cheer up the landscape.

When painting outdoors, the artist needs to realize that the range of values (darks and lights) in nature are many times higher than the range of values on the palette. I learned that the hard way when starting on this plein air painting, that the gloomy day initially encouraged me to use rather dull values. Hence my interest in brightening up the environment.

Charlie's twists and turns convinced me to "blur out" a fair amount of the remaining landscape. This technique helps to emphasize the focal point on this old twisted tree. It also helped to emphasize Charlie's fine lines and contortions keeping other objects in the scene from distracting the main subject.

I will plan to visit Charlie in each of the four seasons to capture how he's doing as the weather changes.

Bring Charlie home. Yes, the original Gnarly Charly.

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