I find that landscape painting is a good antidote to the studio. The weather and light don’t always cooperate but there’s nothing like being outside and capturing your direct impressions of nature.
It’s also the first time I’ve made the commitment to paint outdoors throughout the winter - rain, sleet, wind, snow or cold. Each and every week I go out with my painting buddy Hickory Mertsching ( www.hickorymertsching.com ) and work on capturing the feel of the northwest in winter. Here are some of my impressions thus far:
- Despite the starkness of the winter landscape and dreariness of gray skies, colors outside are both fresh and subtle. Cloudy days offer steady light which I’m happy to say allows me to finish much larger works on location. One thing I’ve noticed about painting larger is that it's pushing me to say a lot with a little and that it’s ok to exaggerate colors and forms for effect. Another benefit is that my smaller paintings seem easier to finish in one sitting.
- There's lots of gray sky out there but sunlight and blue skies peep out now and then offering some rather dramatic possibilities for composition. I can understand why British landscape painters like Constable made the sky a primary element in their compositions. Transient effects like this push me to work faster and exercise my memory and imagination more. Short days also also mean editing and staying focused on what is essential.
- Last, there’s always a good story or two about getting drenched and windblown because the painting wasn’t “ quite done “, or encounters with wildlife and our fellow humans you normally wouldn’t expect.
I’d say that winter is a great time to go outdoors and paint. Welcome to the office! Just wear good boots, warm clothing and figure out a way to stay dry. The rewards are endless!
PS: I'm happy to announce that I'll be exhibiting my new series of landscape paintings in April at the Oregon Technology Business Center.