What to paint, listening and responding…
Whether I am walking, hiking, on a bike, or in a car, I am soaking in the view, the details and the beauty of the world around me. I am open to possibilities and yet when one comes it sometimes seems to leap out to catch me, other times the beauty just quiets my soul.
We were camping at Gregg Lake in the William Switzer provincial park. As we biked through the park, there were a couple places that caught my eye enticing me to come back to paint them. In the morning, as we sat by the lake, I painted the first one: the misty morning mountain. The kayakers paddled into the painting as I worked on the peaceful scene I shared last month.
In the afternoon, I took my supplies and biked back to the end of the lake that had caught my eye earlier, where the water meanders a path through the reeds, reflecting the surrounding hills. In the shallows where a stream empties into the lake, submerged rocks add their hidden depth to the beauty.
The trials of plein air - painting on location.
I did the preliminary layers of paint on location that afternoon in the sunshine, but as the clouds rolled back in, the light changed enough, so I stopped working. (Besides, we wanted to take our own kayak out.)
The next day the same scene looked very different. The light that had caught my eye the day before was not there. It would have changed the mood of the painting and the hidden depth was not as visible on the cloudy day. It just felt different, less inspiring.
When is a painting finished?
I took the painting and the photographs with me to work on during one of the art walk weekends. I was disappointed with the photos as they did not line up with what I remembered, but I worked with them anyway and got to a completed stage.
Yet, later at home, the painting still was missing that hidden depth of the foreground that had captured my eye in the first place. But what I remembered wasn’t in the photos. How could I paint it in?
Then, as I was going back through my phone, looking for the photo I took of my set up on site where I used my bike as the easel, I finally had a photo that matched what I remembered. With this photo, I was then able to do the finishing touches on the painting. Yeah!
Sometimes, or maybe more often than not, I have to push past what I think Is done. I set a painting up against the wall and sit with it for a awhile until it tells me that there is more to do with it or it is done.
A matter of perspective, reflections on the journey…
Often, while I paint and work on a piece, I wonder what it was that caught my attention. For this painting, what was it about the rocks in the foreground, and the ones I could see through the water in places, the hidden depth that the camera could not see? It was like seeing two perspectives at once: the reflective surface and what is underneath in the hidden depths.
We have hidden depths. We also reflect (deflect) to hide ourselves, sometimes intentionally, sometimes subconsciously. With the right lens, we can see to the hidden depths within ourselves. There is beauty there to be discovered, in each and every one of us.
It takes a journey to find those hidden depths in ourselves and in each other. It is worth the journey.