Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Book to Read

I came across a wonderful new book: An Artist's Way of Seeing by Mary Whyte. The book urges the reader to move beyond the technical aspects of painting by learning to bring what I call the "moment" to the painting. This "moment" is whatever it is that you felt when you first saw your scene -- what it was that attracted you in the first place. Learning to see as an artist is what it's all about. Whyte explores this through her beautiful watercolors and well-written text.

The practice is something I try to incorporate into the creation of my studio pieces. As a dyed-in-the-wool plein air painter, I would always much rather be outdoors painting than in the studio. (Yes, even though I have hot coffee and some nice classical music in my studio -- things difficult to get when you backpack in a few miles.) However, when it's 30 outside and a light snow is falling, as it did so yesterday, the studio is the only place for me.

Yesterday, I finished up this piece:
"Mulholland Light from the Lubec Channel," 16x20, oil/panel.
I worked not just from photographs but also from strong memories. My memories were so vivid that I could remember exactly how pure the light was on the sand and exactly what shade of green the smokehouse roof was. They allowed me to bring the "moment" to this piece. These memories, of course, are so vivid because I have learned to see as an artist, much as Whyte details in her book. You can't make a painting this strong from a photo without that ability to see.

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