Being primarily a landscape painter, of course subject matter is central to my work. Yet I very much think and see abstractly. Sense of light, color, shape: that’s what my eye sees when I’m really looking–not specific relationships between the concrete matter of the landscape–and that’s what I paint. But it’s so easy to get caught in the trap of subject matter. Time and time again, I’m painting a tree and it is just too much a tree! So I’m renewing my focus; to paint shapes. Light shapes, color shapes, compositional shapes.
Today I was on my paddleboard on the south part of Good Harbor Bay in northern Lake Michigan. (Possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth.) North Manitou Island was generating a string of clouds that were quite striking. The shore was dark, in shadow, the island slightly greyed. The perspective gained by standing on the board out in 20 feet of crystal clear water is amazing. The ripples in the sand below me were as apparent as the clouds overhead. I didn’t have my paints along with me…so I just stopped out there, and tried to take it all in. Make some decisions about what was important. Here’s the gouache painting I did after I got home.