Neither of these paintings tell the factual truth. Both scenes are derived from places I enjoy painting, but both images arrived via my memory.
MEMORY SERVES 11x14 oil on linen panel
For me, one of the chief values of plein air painting is to obtain firsthand experience and notes from what goes on in nature. When I'm out to paint plein air, I'm not thinking of coming back with finished work, or even something I intend to finish in the studio. I do that now and then, but I don't want that kind of pressure when I'm out to study light and color. I have a pile of oil sketches on small panels done out of doors, but I don't consider myself, primarily a plein air painter.
When I come back to the sketch, weeks or months later, I have a recollection of the spot and the experience of painting it. From the combination of the two, I begin to invent a picture in which my intention is to bring out a distillation of one thing that made me want to paint the scene, and how it makes me feel. Everything is on the table, arrangement, subtraction or addition, color, key, sizes, whatever. The memory and feeling become the filter for the facts of "reality".