Sunday, February 13, 2011


French Cottage
oil on canvas
20 x 24
Twinkies? Yes, but not the creme filled cakes you are thinking about. Hmmm, that is a nice thought! I call my paintings that I "revisit" Twinkies. They were close to being finished. I hung them some place where I could sneak up on them and keep looking. This painting of the French Cottage went pretty quickly. I knew what I was going to paint. I had painted a small version on site so I was familiar with the house. But, working in the studio on a larger canvas, the temptation is to copy the photograph pretty closely. Tempting...Tempting.., just like the creme filled cakes.
And so it was hung and it waited.
When I first began painting en plein air or outdoors, I thought that every outdoor painting needed to look JUST like the scene and had to be completed on site. 100%. Wow, what pressure! Then I started reading and looking and listening to other plein air artists. "Your job is to create a beautiful painting. Not copy just what's there." "Nature isn't perfect. You are the creator. Move it, change it, and make it your own. " "Get inspired by nature. Paint what you feel." Finally, I got it! Compose, rearrange, change, but come away with the essence of what attracted you in the first place. You might have to lighten something, smudge something, even eliminate something when you get back into the studio.
Working in the studio, you have the luxury of time. No disappearing light, no dancing shadows, or weather conditions to make you paint like a madman. But, the photograph should only be an inspiration too. If the painting needs something, add it. If it needs something removed, do it!
My cottage scene needed something. I finally realized what it was. Why did I like it in the first place? I liked the flowers and vines growing around it. All I had to do was add more. Twinked!
In the oil classes last week I talked about using a mirror to view your work. It helps to see lines and angles that are not correct, shapes that repeat too often, and other compositional faux pas. But sometimes, all it takes is a little time away. Let the painting tell you what it wants. Put away the photo or the on site sketch. Make a painting that satisfies you and hopefully the viewers.
I am thinking spring, aren't you? And maybe one of those sweet creamy little cakes?
Happy Valentine's to you and those you love.

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