My goal/objective with the painting was to focus on the cottonwoods, specifically the way the afternoon light was catching the tops and open areas of the trees along the creek. To that end, I feel I succeed to some extent - I do think the trees are the focal point of the painting. As any landscape painter knows, it can be a technical challenge to render a group of trees convincingly. In this situation, not only were there the cottonwoods, but the row of mesquite and other trees that made up the first layer. As I paint, I remind myself to view the elements within the painting (or photo) as abstract shapes of various colors. It is getting easier with each painting I do to leave out unnecessary detail, but part of the challenge is deciding exactly what is not adding anything to the painting.
There are a few things that I could change: the repetitional shapes of a few of the cottonwoods, and breaking up and reducing the value of the backlit lower trees, and a few other things. I think this is an image that would lend itself perhaps better to oils (or a larger size canvas and some additional blue-grays and greens in my pastel collection.
I'm not yet finished with these cottonwoods, though, so some more paintings will probably show up at some point.
"Afternoon along Arivaca Creek"
9x11 on 320-grit sanded paper