STORY BEHIND THE ART OF Heidi Snyder

 
20th Annual International American Society of Botanical Artists & The Horticultural Society of New York
 
 

Ponderosa Pine Stump

Pinus ponderosa
 
As with many of my pieces, especially those that are near and dear to my heart, the subject of my piece “Pondersoa Pine Stump” suggested itself and “chose” me. I was out with a group of folks looking for 'culturally modified' pine trees north of Colorado Springs. A guide showed us trees positively identified as 'culturally modified' and as we walked through the open pine forest I wandered off by myself.  I am always interested in anything pertaining to Pinus ponderosa as I am planning a project depicting in 40 plates all manner of companion animals, companion plants, growth patterns, diseases, tree parts and everything about Pinus ponderosa.  As I looked around I saw this rather unremarkable stump. Once I knelt down and took photos head-on rather than top-down I noticed a surprising variety of textures, growth forms, patterns, and, despite a subdued monochromatic color scheme, a plethora of hues.  As with many things, taking the time to pay close attention yielded unexpected results.  This old stump had a story to tell! And this story included evidence of animal species in its vicinity, namely squirrels. Reddish pinecones had been stuck in a crack serving as cache. Given the presence of a pinecone, pine needles, and the texture of the trunk, positive species identification is possible despite the absence of green needles.
 
 
The piece is done in colored pencil on film, worked front and back to get sufficient color saturation and contrast. Since the colors are muted it is imperative they don’t get drowned in all the gray detail. Therefor contrast and sharpness are necessary to enliven the piece with drama, especially since there is no central focal point.  I approached the actual drawing process from a painterly point of view, often holding the pencil sideways to lay on many different hues and textures.
 
 
A Ponderosa pine forest is notoriously open, with sunlight filtering down to open areas on the ground, fostering herbaceous growth. So it was important that I somehow include this filtered light.  Despite lichen suggesting darkness, moisture and decay, there is just enough sunlight at center top to serve as “window” and to add contrast and drama.
 
 
And that is what I what the viewer to take away from this piece: A rotting gray pine stump, seemingly boring at first glance, contains lots of drama, contrast, motion (yes, motion!) and textures.  These elements almost make one forget that we deal with a tree stump and they also impart a decidedly abstract flair. If you distill an object to its very essence a hitherto hidden world is revealed.
 
 
 
 
 
  • © 2017 Heidi Snyder
    Ponderosa Pine Stump
    Pinus ponderosa
    Colored pencil on film
    20" x 16"