It’s August. Summer is in full heat, and I have spent the past couple of months painting a December scene of one of my favorite wetlands at Mason Neck Virginia State Park. It has kept me cool and calm the past two months of this beastly summer.
Painting is magic to me. It is a time machine that can take me back to a favorite space with all the sounds and atmosphere I experienced when I was actually there.
It always happens. No matter the amount of time that has passed, I re-enter the landscape, the coffee shop, the museum at the moment of that past encounter.
I am not a plein air painter. I can’t step out into the weather and paint directly what I see. It’s too overwhelming for me. I’ve always thought it was because of my graphic design background that I like to plan and think and sketch out the image before actually starting on the canvas.
But I think it’s more that I like the image to “simmer” in my head. I think about the scenes that I encounter and photograph. I run off prints and tape them all over my wall. I play with cropping and color and light on the computer.
And then, finally, after sometimes months of thinking about it, it just comes together and I begin. And the image from that past encounter is now fully formed in my head. As I paint, I re-enter that world, no matter what or where it is. And the joy and wonder returns.
As I get to the final finishing strokes, I am already beginning to think of the next image to paint.
Wetlands,Golden, 40 x 30″, oil