Sue and I drove down to Olympia to paint Saturday. I’d planned to pick up dad and take him out to the park where I planned to paint. When we got there he said he didn’t want to be stuck somewhere for 3 hours and declined our invitation.
He was right. I spent 5 hours painting, from 1 to 6pm, standing at the end of a marshy point, balancing on a couple logs over 5 inches of water. I got a good start on a lovely painting of the old Olympia Brewery. Today (Sunday) I put the painting on my easel. I set my laptop next to my easel, and pulled up the photo I’d taken of the brewery. I noticed a few details I’d missed and added them to the painting. But mostly I found myself staring at the painting. It spoke to me far more than the photo.
I know of course that many artists work from photos, but it’s never worked for me. I need to feel the immediacy of the scene, to hear the birds, and feel the life around me. And my eyes see far more than my camera can ever capture. As I worked over the painting, I watched almost in amazement as my fingers grabbed the wrong colors, and made them look right. I made wild guesses at colors, and most of the time they were true.
I can almost compare it to a jazz player riffing out a new melody that only he can hear, striking each note with perfect pitch and timing. I made a few mistakes, but I caught then immediately. After a couple hours I started feeling cramped and carried my easel out in to the sun. Blue sky and clean air make me paint better. Sunshine is awesome light to paint in. When the sun went down, I got out my video light and painted on in the shadows of the back yard.
I’m hoping that my eye for color, light and design will become more refined over the summer. I will only be teaching part time, and I’d like to be able to call up my “muse” at will, on each day off. My hope is to have enough good work for a gallery show.