Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Growing--Landscape Painting Studies--Salt Marshes

These small (5" X 7") studies are based on the two salt marsh photos I posted last time. Several other photos taken that early January day also informed my interpretation of the scene on canvas. Although I love exploring and looking out over the marshes any time of the year, there is something especially tranquil and spiritual about winter marshland. Thus, these little pieces have been a joy to create. You will notice a few modifications from the actual scenes in the photos, especially some simplifications to improve the composition for this small format. When viewed next to each other, these paintings provide a panoramic view. But each can stand on its own as well.
I am working on a 12" X 16" version of the view in the study on the right. The egret is nice, but the complexity of the waterway patterns in the other study is even more appealing to me. Achieving a good tonal balance and a believable distance perspective in the larger painting have been more demanding than expected, but I hope to be able to show it to you soon.
Again, I am struck by the extent to which painting has sharpened my ability to see, to really see, the variety and complexity of nature--even in an apparently simple scene. Art instructors always say, "Paint from what you see; don't make it up," and every turn at the easel proves them right. Even when we change the scene--or even partially abstract it--working from what we think things look like instead of from the reality throws the work off. Yet, maddeningly, I sometimes find myself falling into the habit of working out of my head, even when the photos are right in front of me. The goal is continual growing and learning from each project.
For local readers, a reminder of our invitation to one and all. Mark and I would love to welcome you to our home for Harvest Delights, an Open Studio Reception Sunday, November 8, from 2 - 5 p.m. Food, drink, paintings, sustainably grown produce from our friends' farm, live piano music, and fun people--drop in and enjoy! Please scroll down to the October 10 post for address and contact information. Or email me at with questions.
Question of the day: If you paint, sketch, take photos, or pursue any other creative outlet, do you find yourself seeing much more acutely than before--even if you have always loved nature?


  1. About your question: I have become more away of light and what it does to subject to photograph. As an oudoor photographer I look for different movements of the birds as I photograph them. Thanks.

  2. The study on the right will make a lovely painting!! The waterway patterns does make it more interesting.
    I'm so much more into seeing color. I'm aware of it in everything that I look at!!

  3. Beautifully painted, Mary. But then that is no surprise to me. Funny about your question; I was going to touch on that comment anyway. For me, I have a really hard time seeing the forest for the trees. There is so much beauty in the world and I get too ensnared in the details, oftentimes, overworking a piece...not an easy thing to correct as I usually work in watercolors. I just find so much beauty out there and I never want to leave anything out. That said, when taking photographs, however, I always have an eye for composition - what would be pretty, make a good photo, make a great painting...

  4. Hi There, Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to you after your visit to my blog. After being on vacation, I have been WAY far behind on my blog comments.

    Please come back to my blog anytime!!!! I am enjoying yours. I am not 'gifted' when it comes to drawing or painting.. But--I love photography. And you are right... I see things in a totally different perspective now that I've been taking photos. Check out my blog today.


  5. Welcome to all of you, friends, and thank you for your interesting thoughts. I love it when readers seriously enter into the conversation--it's no fun writing a monologue.

    It's a busy day, but I'll be back later to respond to each of you personally.

  6. The answer is clearly yes. Example: me on a trout stream. Very focused on what I see on the stream. Surrounded by beautiful but unnamed warblers. Later I took up birding and photography - what a revelation!

  7. Mary - Thanks for visiting my blog and your VERY kind comments! I can't wait to see the larger work - the study is lovely itself!

    I find that I see things differetnly. I look at compostion of a scene and color. I try to find the interesting focal point - I guess this is why many artists are good photographers too.

  8. Thank you for your kind comment on the little paintings, Lynne. These studies were among the first paintings that sold at my reception on Sunday, and a number of other people liked them, too.

    Your insight about the connection to painting and photography is interesting--I think you are right about that.

  9. Mary both the paintings are done superbly! The yellow hues provide a strong feeling of existence of life, with the egret as a highlight; and the brown mellow tones in the other define infinity. Both are unique in their own way ! Wonderful work!
    As for your question when I paint or do a digital abstract several possibilities open up before me; I may start with something very basic but a stroke here or there soon develops into something which even surprises me at times.
    Take care .

  10. Sadia, I love hearing your thoughts and insights about the creative process--thank you. And I very much appreciate your lovely and interesting interpretations of the little paintings. I think that sometimes we draw on deeper meanings and symbols that we are consciously aware of when we pursue our art. You have helped bring some of that meaning to my awareness.