Last February (2010), I began this oil painting of a landscape in the White Mountains.
Because I had other work to complete first, this painting progressed slowly.
For about four months, this painting was on my living room wall. I knew that it needed something… I just couldn’t figure out what.
Last week, I read a book by artist Thomas Kinkade, Masterworks of Light. It’s a lovely book, of course. He’s brilliant at capturing a sense of light within his landscapes.
In one interview, Kinkade mentioned the importance of providing a path, or some way the viewer feels that he or she can access the scene… a way to “walk into it” or otherwise connect with the landscape.
That’s what was missing from earlier versions of my painting of the hotel.
When I reviewed the evolution of this work, I realized that the original design (shown in my earlier article, When stuck, add energy!) actually presented the hills as obstacles between the viewer and the hotel.
Once I added the path, shown in the top photo on this page, the entire imagery changed. Suddenly, I saw ways to simplify the design and add a better sense of light & shadow. The painting is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
At this point, I think the general landscape is completed. The hotel needs small details such as windows (one of them lit) and a light at the front door.
For now, this painting has acquired a sense of whimsy. I like it. That’s the important part.
I’m letting the painting dry now, so I can paint over the front of the hotel (adding details) without disturbing the latest layers of paint.
This painting has been an adventure, and a very satisfying one. I’ve learned a lot from it.
It’s not my usual style. It’s simplistic, and reminds me a little of the work of Tomie dePaola. (Interestingly, he taught at the college I first attended, but he arrived a couple of years after I’d left.)
Note: See the finished canvas at Spalding Inn Painting – Final version.
One of the things I’m realizing as I thrill to the energy in this painting is: I really am – first and foremost – an artist. It’s where I’m happiest.
Everything else… well, it’s easy for me to get caught up in what I do well, things that I seem to be gifted at, and things that people want from me, and ignore what feeds my soul.
I’m reminded of the warning given to bright girls in the 1960s: Don’t learn to type. (Once people knew we could type, we were quickly assigned the role of secretary/receptionist in almost any business or club environment.)
Seeing how art energizes me, from a recent visits to the Vermont Visitors’ Center on Rte. 91 and to the MIT Museum, and how juicy the imagery is in that Tomie dePaola link I shared above… well, the conclusion is simple: I need to focus on my art, and let everything else be a spare-time interest.
I’m also reading the notes about the TOMIE & HIS STUFF exhibit, and realizing that I don’t display my stuff enough. In fact, most of it is in storage, and – if we’re moving to England, as we (maybe/probably) plan to – I need to remember what inspires me, and what needs to travel with me.
So, there’s a lot going on in my life and in my thoughts right now.
It’s all very, very good!
2020 update: Looking at this painting now, in its incomplete state, I rather like it. The anonymity of the building, and how stark the landscape seems… It’s a different statement than the finished work (White Mountains Painting…), but perhaps more interesting in an enigmatic way.