I’ve just finished Kevin MacPherson’s new book, “Reflections on a Pond“, and like all great art books it will be re-read many times until dog-eared and worn. That’s a complement! The book contains one painting for every day of the year of the view of a pond outside his home in New Mexico. Imagine, trying to come up with 365 paintings of the same scene! He pulls it off, and in so teaches a lesson about observation.
You can look at the same site, day after day, and see something different. Of course light changes, weather, and so on–and those changes are obvious. But the series of images demonstrate how the artist really brings the subject to life, by conveing a point of view, or an emotional response. I also found the book a good lesson in subtlety. You can see how incredibly sensitve the artist as by the careful observation and emotion in every paitning. I’ve been thinking of painting a similar series because I can see there are some real lessons to be learned here. There’s a good spot off 280/Edgewood Road that I’m considering, although it’s a rest stop, so not open 24×7. We’ll see. In the meantime, in the coming weeks, I’ll post some of my own paintings that hopefully show I’ve learend something from this great American master.
When I’m out painting, I’m often asked “How long does it take you to paint that?” I know most people are well-meaning and just plain curious, but the reality is an entire lifetime of experience and years of training go into each work of art. You can’t translate two hours of work into an hourly rate. If you did, all artist’s would be rich! But guess what, the vast majority are poor. Why?
The simple answer is consistency. The greats can create great paintings, one after the other, while the rest (like me) will maybe decide to show 1 in 4 paintings in a gallery, and then go on to sell 1 in 4 of those. So, do the math 🙂 I had to paint approximately 1,400 paintings to paint this little masterpiece.
What does all this have to do with this painting? Well, it’s one of those real winners. One in which everything I’ve every learned came together at once. It practically “painted itself”. I often hear that phrase from artist’s when a painting is going well. Everything you’ve learned becomes automatic, and you’re able to respond in an emotional way to the subject. Not in a complex, overt way, but one of elegant simplicity. This is a simple painting–look how few colors there are–but to me, it just glows.
So, more to come! I’m still working on my Aspen Series, and hope to have them done for my show in January, 2006. I know this study is a winner, and will end up being a 20×24, or perhaps even bigger. I still have a 3’x5′ canvas crowding my studio, white as winter, ready for the glow of Fall.
I’m making more trips to Lake Tahoe this summer.. As with some of the Laguna Beach rocks/surf paitntings above, I’m experimenting with pushing color and using more expressive and obvious brush strokes.