Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Capturing more than a moment

Desert Watch
7 x 10 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
I have been looking at my old photos recently, and I have been visiting photoblogs by some very talented people. One great online source for great photos is Flickr. I am sure there are more, but I haven't stumbled on to them yet. All these photos do one thing very well. They capture a moment in time. They preserve that fleeting thought, wind, snowfall, whatever, for all time, or at least as long as the emulsion lasts on the old kind of photo prints. When you paint from photos, you are looking at a moment in time. Unless you took the photo, and spent some time in the place, that is all you can paint. I think that is part of the richness of plein air paintings. As you are painting, time is moving. The light changes. The mood evolves. A good plein air artist captures this passage of time in the painting. I hear them talk about making sure you have a good value sketch of what first drew you to the chosen spot so these changes won't effect the painting, but it does and that makes the paintings richer. This is, of course, my humble opinion. I paint primarily from photos at the present time. I try and limit myself to reference photos I have taken or my husband took when we were both together so I can bring some of my feeling about the place to the easel. There are times, however, when I use photos taken by my friends or members of my larger family - with permission of course. I don't know if anyone else can see the difference, but I certainly feel a difference when I am doing the painting.
This painting is from a reference photo I took ages ago. I think it was in Eastern Washington state near Potholes Reservoir. The cumulus clouds were much more distinct in the photo, but I have trouble with cumulus puffy shapes floating across the sky. They look great in God's world, but not so much on paper. A least for me.
Tomorrow, I am going to try and tackle value again. I am going to do an entire painting in one hue using all the values I need. I have not done this before except with charcoal or pencil. It will be interesting, I am sure.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Very beautiful.
Another note, The richness of plein air is effected by the light that surrounds you while you are on location. I think many of the value study endorsers don't like to acknowledge that. One can get rapped up in the beauty of the moment when you make a decision to paint a location and miss a lighting event that happens while they are painting. Great paintings are a result of being open while having the structure to share the beauty in the eye of the beholder.