Making studio landscapes

We had a wonderful fall exhibit at the Old Art Building in Leland last weekend. Thanks to everyone that visited! Over the weekend I met and spoke with so many people about my new paintings…it was very rewarding. As a visual person, talking about my work is always challenging, but I love the discussion. I thought this was the perfect time to try to consolidate those discussions into a new post. So here goes, it’s a synopsis of what I’ve been thinking about my work for the last year.

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Forest Sublime, gouache and crayon

The landscape has been for so long the motivation for my painting. It’s just where I am pulled and what I love best. I have always begun my work on location; for now that means gouache and watercolor crayon on paper. It’s really portable, and the combination of media is something that has become very comfortable and fluid for me. When I’m out in the landscape, there is a lot of stimulation. It’s exciting and full of energy. My eye moves around quickly: I see the light shifting at the distant horizon. I see the sunlight and shadows on the ferns and mosses at my feet. There might be reflections that are changing by the second on the water in front of me. It’s a lot to take in and process. I love it. And this direct recording is absolutely necessary to my process.

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Chasing Frogs 1, gouache and crayon

In the last few years, I’ve developed a strong studio practice, producing larger paintings on canvas. The work in studio begins with the plein air gouache paintings. I choose to return to the same location many times. The details of the place become embedded in my visual memory. Quality of light, details of composition, specifics of a particular time of day or of season.

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Evening Swim, acrylic, 36 x 48

To begin the studio paintings, I sort through my visual memories, and then select a collection of gouache paintings. As the canvas develops, a new environment starts to emerge. I respond to this new landscape on canvas in the same way that I respond to the natural world. But this response is a more meditative, thoughtful response. I have the time to sit with the environment that is developing. I’m not bombarded by the changes in the plein air work. Yet it’s important to me that they still retain a strong sense of the original location and light.

Pink Sky, acrylic, 60 x 48

Pink Sky, acrylic, 60 x 48

Many of the studio paintings are large in format. Standing before them, I’m drawn into the new environment of my own making.