This page contains random thoughts,
comments and quotations about painting,
especially outdoor painting. Your comments and quotes are
I was already in middle
age before I began to attend art shows, gallery openings and
art museums. The act of putting paint on canvas to explain
the beauty of the landscape was fascinating to me. I wanted
to try it. How hard could it be? I was sure, with my formal
training in engineering, I could go to the library, find a
book that describes the painting process, and follow the
directions to a successful outcome. I was surprised to
find there isn't a prescribed procedure for
painting. Every painter seemed to have their own way.
Apparently if I was going to paint, I would have to figure
out my own way. Instruction can certainly help,
but in the end, you have to do your own thing. It also
became clear to me that to paint the landscape it's
best to go where the landscape is - outside.
"Painting is easy when you don't
but very difficult when you do."
nature is not copying the object:
my painting experience I was fortunate to meet and become friends with Carl
W. Peters and his wife Blanche. A true artist, Carl lived to paint. Though I met
him only a few years before his death, his encouragement,
comments and critiques are forever inspirational to me.
After his death his wife generously opened his studio to me
to allow study of his paintings. Today I am proud to have
Carl's studio easel in my own studio. I use it to
display finished work. I would never paint on it. I
wouldn't want to contaminate Carl's easel with my
paint. For those interested in Peter's
life and work, I recommend the book, "Carl W. Peters,
American Scene Painter From Rochester to Rockport" by
R. H. Love.
After more than thirty years of
painting outdoors I was hoping it would get easier. It
hasn't. In fact, it has become more difficult. Oh, some
of the mechanics are easier, but getting the idea or feel
of the place has not. I guess it's because, as time
goes by, the things I'm after in a painting have become
more subtle. Nature suggests the mood, the painter
interprets and records it.
It is realizing one's sensations."
When I paint in
public places (which I try to avoid as much as possible)
invariably someone will come along and say, "Oh, it
must be so relaxing to paint." My reply is
always, "No, it's not relaxing, it's
frustrating." No matter the season or the weather,
it's always a challenge to use paint to depict a
landscape. I'm rarely satisfied with the result I get.
Somehow, the picture I had in mind is always a bit
better than the one on the canvas. But wait 'til
you see the next one! It's the "next one"
that keeps you going. For me personally, and I believe
for others as well, there comes a point in an outdoor
painting when you should ignore the subject and do what the
painting demands. Sometimes I find it helpful to consider a
title as I begin a painting. It helps to keep my focus on
the concept of the painting. Frequently, during a painting
session when I, or one of my companions, begin to struggle,
I will ask, "Now what is the painting title?" The
point is usually made. Keep the subject in mind and know
were you want to direct the viewers attention.
I love painting in winter. Each season
has it's own appeal, but for me, the color and forms of
the winter landscape are unmatched by any other season.
Many of the painters of the past that I admire are well
known for their paintings of winter. In addition to
Peters, Edward Redfield, Elmer Schofield and Aldro Hibbard,
among others, were masters of winter.
Although I prefer the outdoors, I
do paint in my studio. The odd still life or occasional
figure painting provide a nice diversion, but landscapes
are my main interest. The landscapes I do in my studio are
usually taken from work I have done outside - either
successes or failures. A studio painting may focus on just
a part of an outdoor work, or it may be another try at the
whole thing. Sometimes I try a more drastic approach, like
changing day into night or summer into winter. The studio
is also a good place to sit and think about
painting. Better yet, have painter friends in and
talk about painting. The Spanish painter Joaquin
Sorolla said, "A studio is a good place to smoke your
pipe." I haven't tried that.