Monday, February 28, 2011

Exploring--Off the Beaten Track for Painting Subjects

Last post, I showed you a 2009 visit to Kingsley Plantation in the Timucuan Preserve, here in Jacksonville, Florida. Today's photos are from our visit to the plantation with out-of-town friends a couple of weeks ago on a pleasant, bright day. After viewing the ruins of the slave cabins, the buildings, and exhibits, we wandered the extensive property. I am always drawn to water, so took a trail by the river, where views of marsh grasses and small islands added charm to the view.
I took a number of photos, as I usually do in interesting coastal North Florida areas, hoping that some will provide inspiration for landscape paintings in the future. In addition to photos that might, with cropping and a few adjustments, become the basis for a painting, I take various photos to help me remember details. The bark or leaves of a particular tree, the mud at the edge of a river, a close-up of salt marsh grasses, a cloud formation, or any number of other details can provide the information I need back in the studio. Without good photo records, studio painting would be guesswork and would not result in the kind of expressive, yet representative, landscapes I like to paint. Of course, not every painter works this way, and many wonderful paintings evolve by other methods. But, for me, "making it up" does not produce the kinds of interpretations of actual locations in our beautiful area that I try to paint.
You may enjoy imagining how you would use these photos in a painting. The view of the path is intriguing, but lacks the variation in color and in lights and darks a painting needs. Guess I'd imagine more breaks in the trees on the left to add more sunny patches on the shadowed walk, then intensify the drama of the bright area where the trail curves out of sight with sunlit tree trunks and foliage. The river view has multiple possibilities; one would be to use a 6" x 12" canvas I have and paint a narrow panoramic view.
Question of the day: Do you, too, find yourself captured by a scene off the beaten path that other people might pass without noticing?


  1. I live for these kind of places Mary! They have been the focus of all, well most, of my hobbies - wilderness canoeing, flyfishing, hiking, birding wildlife photography, biking etc. Malls & crowded freeways are not for me.
    btw somehow I lost track. My bad. Good to hear from you again. ;)

  2. Mary, I suspect most people with artistic tendencies do just that. In fact, that is why I have the "marching to the beat of a different drum" on my blog! LOLOL

  3. Hey, TB--great to hear from you! You do find wonderful out-of-the-way places, which I love seeing and hearing about on your blog.

    I think you are right, Sherry--including all sorts of creative people, many of whom probably don't think of themselves as "artistic". Life is just more fun off the beaten track, isn't it?