October 14, 2016

Nature’s Excitement: Inspired Landscape

My eyes are constantly buzzing with the full spectrum of light and color that delight all of my senses everyday. The gift of being alive on this incredibly Beautiful and Magical planet fill my heart with gratefulness. Sky, trees, grass, flowers, plants, fields, rocks, mountains, lakes, streams; I am so amazed and overwhelmed by the perfection of all of these elements and the way they all come together to create the seasons, weather, and the delight of experience of living on the Earth. MOTHER Earth. I love her so much because she nurtures and expands my horizons, opening me up wider to her gifts every day.

My love runs deep. To capture even a moment of this feeling is my intention, but it is a “big” job. Nature’s beauty is beyond description because we are so “connected” to it. It is life itself in all it’s exquisiteness. As I step into the landscape with my paints, my heart races and I feel the excitement. It’s overwhelming at first to be in the field with all the vibrations of light and color. Then the intellectual mind steps in: how to express this “feeling”. I am an emotional artist and to this is always my intention. So, I exaggerate and embellish, and attempt to express this burning flame that is ignited by beauty.

My favorite time to paint in the landscape is late afternoon into the early evening. The shadows are long and dramatic at that time, and the colors are always more saturated.

I begin the process by walking in the landscape and visually assessing the scene, until I find something that is lights up my imagination. I usually have several canvases that I have prepared with a colored ground with me and I begin to look at the landscape from the perspective of a rectangle. I usually use a horizontal rectangle for landscape. This shape allows me to express a larger area. I consider the landscape from the perspective of horizon line and vanishing point and what is impressing me emotionally most. Is it the sky? the field? The trees? the flowers?
How can I lead the viewer to the element that I am especially excited about, and How can I maintain that interest? These are just some of my internal questions.

I make a charcoal sketch in black and white in my small sketchbook to determine the composition and to asses the tonal values. Where are the darkest darks? the medium tones, the lights. It is much like creating music now. How is the the piece going to flow within the confines of that rectangle?

When I am satisfied with the sketch, I make a similar but lighter notation on the canvas, noting the key shapes and their placements.
The next step is setting up my french easel which is a process in itself. Depending on the weather conditions, the wind factor especially, I dig the flimsy feet of the easel into the earth. depending on the direction of the sun, I set up my artists umbrella, so that my canvas is shaded. and pull out the drawer that has my colors and my brushes. I work with a vintage type palette that has a dumb hole, and I begin premixing my colors. I use a limited palette, red, yellow blue, white, a mixture of dark purple and viridian green to create my darkest darks. I rarely if ever use black.The temperature of the palette is warm or cool, depending on my emotional intent, the season, the light.

And then the dance begins. I begin by finding the rhythm of the scene within the rectangle. I lay in the large shapes first in a light wash with brush and fill the entire canvas so that all the main decisions about placement are made. As I work I walk back and forth, with own physical rhythm, alternating my visual perception between the landscape and the marks I am making on the canvas. Each mark is a decision and all the other marks that follow must be in harmony with the first. I respond from the right side of my brain and ignore the left. I discipline myself not to get hung up in details at this stage but to enjoy the freedom of expressing the large expanses of color and shape. This “beginning phase” of making a painting is the most fun. I trust in that flow of my intuitive brain.

I work quickly, trusting. I alternate between referencing what I actually see, and my intuitive and emotional response to it. The energy of “being” there, IN IT, is the most exciting part and it is what feeds that painting. The experience of three dimensions, can not be duplicated. The spirit of the Mother Earth is so huge that I want to feel it with my whole body; the colors, the wind, the sun, the clouds, the air, the sounds. All of these elements pour through me onto the canvas. I often use a palette knife so that I can express the texture and dimension.
These moments captured on canvas are some of the most magnificent experiences I have had in the landscape. It is as if I become the scene itself in some way, and these times are forever etched on my heart.