Why do we choose to paint certain scenes and not others? What are attracted to? I know that I’m interested in capturing more intimate views of the landscape; the band of light across a path or the tuft of grass silhouetted by a dark shape behind it. I’m enchanted by the dance of leaves in the fall or the warm earth poking through some grass. I’m not likely to paint the grand mountain reflecting in a lake.
I also know that a place needs to sink in for me to want to paint it. That’s why going on trips to paint unfamiliar scenes is interesting to me, but often doesn’t yield my best work. My best work is of places that have weight and meaning to me beyond the initial beauty of a landscape. Places that I visit often and get to experience in different seasons and at different times of day have the most impact on my work. These become sacred places that I am drawn to over and over again. They sink in. They seep in. These places have mystery and meaning to me.
I’m getting ready to start a small series of pieces of a local spot called Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. It’s a place where I’ve been spending some time recently and have gathered reference both photographic and in memories. Whether or not they are of merit to sell has little interest to me.
If they capture some of the impact that the place has on me is what will be important.
One of the reasons that I find doing commission work from a clients photo so difficult is because of just this issue of a place needing to have meaning in order to do ones best work. I need to feel a connection with the place to really have magic happen. I just can’t do it from a clients image. Whereas a place that I am connected with will have a profound impact on the work.
I’d love to hear how you decide on places to paint!