Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Growing--Landscape Painting Part II

This painting, based on the photo in my previous post, emerged slowly. My priorities for focus and scope changed as I worked in ways I would not have predicted. I will spare you a long description of all the twists and turns of the creative process, but will mention some of the insights and adjustments I made along the way.
First, I assembled all the reference photos taken at the bend in Little Pottsburg Creek--wider panoramas and close-up details as well as the main photo. I recalled the mild, still air, the musky, but not unpleasant, smell of the flat, muddy bank, and the colors that had danced in the sunlight and softened in shadow. I decided to incorporate some elements from other photos and to use a horizontal layout showing a greater expanse of water and some tall grasses in the foreground.
My first instinct was that the soft reddish grasses on the right would be my focal point. My husband viewed some of my thumbnail sketches along the way and was drawn instead to the taller grasses in the left foreground. Being torn among various interesting elements, I painted an adequate, but unfocused scene--too much competition for attention. My subsequent efforts to improve the composition and balance were unsuccessful, and I set the canvas aside for awhile to rest my mind by working on a small floral piece.
My painting mentor, Linda Blondheim (see her web site for beautiful paintings), suggested that she found the reddish grasses interesting as a texture contrast to the rocks I had indicated (but not featured) in the foreground. That was the trigger I needed to complete the painting--featuring an area of varied textures. Without fully realizing it, I had been captivated by the multiple textures in the scene as well, from the placid water to the jagged rocks and both soft and sharp-edged grasses. The texture contrasts on the right side of the painting, from foreground to mid-ground became the focal point, while other areas became less detailed in order to let them recede in importance. There's that matter of balance again, which keeps emerging as a theme in recent posts.
Another artist would have painted quite a different rendering. Your answer to the last post's question regarding what you would feature in this scene might be radically different as well--and wonderful in its own way. I have often heard that one must be able to truly see in order to paint. Along my creative journey, the opposite has more often been the case for me--that painting is a vehicle to enhanced seeing of what is around me. Every painting in process is a growing and learning experience to treasure.
Question of the day: What pursuit or activity is your growing edge?


  1. Wonderful painting, Mary! I love seeing what you did with the photo!

  2. Came out fabulous Mary. Very kind of you to add me and my web site to this post. I appreciate it so much.

  3. Jean, Thank you very much! I value your response highly.

    Linda, You are so very welcome. You made major contributions to this painting along the way.

  4. It's a beautiful composition Mary ! very well toned and textured. I enjoy doing landscapes myself and it was great seeing your work.
    Take care .

  5. Thank you, Sadia. I so much admire your vibrant work--it is a pleasure to hear from you.

  6. Beautiful work Mary! YOu are so organized!

  7. Thank you for your kind words, Nancy--I appreciate your visit very much. I do not always feel so very organized, but I keep on working to take things step by step and to keep first things first. Why doesn't that happen more naturally and easily? It's a mystery.