Monday, March 31, 2008

Sunriver, OR

Signs of spring are everywhere, but it certainly isn’t spring. Redwings call from the remnants of last year’s cattails, catkins fuzz out on the green-yellow willow twigs, little buds of green show in the brown grass. But snow patches abound and the flooded fields are still frozen, tempting would-be ice skaters. And it is cold, far too cold for me to paint outdoors. That leaves the shelter of the van, the lodge, or our room.

The room, the most convenient option, has a golf-course view. This means that the hills and trees are arranged more for the order of the golfer’s terrain than for my painting composition. Trees line up in unpleasing regularity, and the hills are all of a height. But the slanting morning shadows on the snow add a lot of interest to what might otherwise be a bland landscape. I rearrange some trees, take others out, and create a composition which is faithful in feel rather than in fact.

Most of the time, I am more inclined to move my viewpoint until objects and spaces offer a more ready-made composition. It is much easier to invest time in painting with confidence the composition that you can actually see. One side effect: it’s easy to forget that, even then, little parts will need to be moved. Some artists claim that you can just paint nature as it is, and all compositions will be perfect. Yet I notice that even they will leave things out. And even artists in the national magazines make mistakes, including things in their paintings that are better left out.

The room is dark, far too dark for seeing the painting properly. When I take it off my easel, I find far more variations in the greens, which is good, and much brighter snow, about which I am uncertain. Rick suggests adding some bright color in the brush front left. I will wait until I get home to decide with the painting in my studio light.

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