If painting were easy, everyone would paint well. But painting frequently leads to a crisis of despair. How we get past those crises, determines our growth. I've tried painting this scene twice before. I first set up to paint here several years ago. I was captivated by the possibilities, and felt sure I was about to have a lot of fun making a nice painting. From the beginning everything began to go down hill, and my frustration was mounting. Everything looked so promising, so what was the problem?!
I tried again a couple of years later, feeling a good bit of foreboding about my prospects since I had failed so miserably in my first attempt. Again, everything looked beautiful and I was excited about painting it. Again, the result was a wipe. Damn!
It's been over a year since then, and I haven't thought about this place. When it came up, again, as something I was attracted to, my mind was divided by attraction to the scene, and aversion to a repeat of previous failure. Because I've continued to paint and learn by experience, certain things had fallen into place that enabled me to realize something that encouraged me to try again. The need for simplification! I had come to realize that no matter how beautiful and appealing a subject may be, or how well I may be able to draw, it's asking for trouble to try to capture everything about it. That may seem obvious, but I can tell you many painters suffer with this malady well past their first realization of the warning.
Our job involves distilling an essence of the subject as we hope to portray it. It requires a conscious editing, and arrangement of all that is before us. One thing must dominate, while everything else must play a supporting roll. You can't do everything that appears beautiful, …the roots, the rocks, the reflections, the foliage, etc. Having identified the one thing, we're then in a position to design a painting according to purpose, and this is totally different than the laborious effort to transcribe what you see. The fun comes from your own invention as you respond to how you can radically simplify everything in order to bring harmony to emphasizing the thing that has moved you to paint.
©Jimmy Longacre 2014
11X14 oil on canvas panel
subjective realist landscape paintings
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