Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tree paintings

In between the busy deadlines of exhibition schedules, I have been making an effort to leave the comforts of my studio and to paint on location (en plein air). I am going to be honest, it isn't the most enjoyable activity that comes to mind when I am outdoors. 

In my days of school, I cringed at the thought when we were dropped off on location and instructed to paint for the day. Battling against the unpredictable forces of nature, the sun glaring off the canvas, the ever shifting changes of light, shadows and color, the cold gusts of wind, and the gawking onlookers with millions of questions. I understood clearly the lessons, to paint from life, appreciate nature, think critically in the moment and make quick decisions, observe form and color temperature nuances in light, etc. Perhaps it was not having proper gear which made the experiences so unbearable or maybe it was, at the time, I was more interested in composing concepts, learning old master techniques and painting figurative artwork. Years later admiring at how impressionists used simple strokes of bold color and how naturalists used subtle muted color palettes to convey form and light, I begin to rethink lessons.

There are only a handful of cityscape paintings I have painted directly on location, each one had its own learning lessons, complications and funny stories to accompany it. Instead of tackling an ambitious cityscape scene, I have focused on coastal trees in the area, there exists a balance between flowing twist and turns of the branches and structure. Each tree has a different gesture and unique characteristics which captivates my fascination.

Those same curve balls mother nature throws haven't diminished nor will they ever, maybe I have become slightly more tolerant. I have proper gear which makes a huge difference, instead of holding the canvas steady, now I can concentrate on painting. If there is the slightest lesson to be learned from the voyages I deem it as well worth the effort. Although merely for study purposes, I consider these paintings to be some of the most important since it is a step to learn and become closer to the subject, more expressive, creative, and ultimately improve. I can return to the studio refreshed with new ideas and outlook. Besides, the weather is fair enough and the fresh air isn't all that bad.