I love hiking above the tree line. The scenery changes abruptly at upper elevations, where the lush greens of the dense forest give way to twisted, stark trees bleached white by wind and sun.

The inspiration for “Lichen Lights” came from noticing how the lichen in the tree branches just lit up in direct sun. Capturing that in oils proved to be a paint-mixing challenge. How do you paint something that bright and make it glow? The yellow tone contrasts nicely against the purplish shadow tones of the barkless tree. In the sunlight, these trees were a pure white.

This view is across a vast canyon where little to no detail was to be had. It was very blue and I think the color was enhanced by the sky reflecting off the mist in the air. The trees in front of this canyon had red tones to them, so I added a manganese violet to my gray mixture. I used the contrast of the complementary colors to maximum effect by painting the lichen extra bright so it seemed to light up the entire scene.