Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Upside down world

The other day in the studio, I found myself looking at a photo of a salt marsh I took in New Brunswick last September and wondering how to make a painting out of it. Because working from photos has never been my forte. I get tied up in the static details recorded by the camera. I feel distanced from the actual landscape as an experience. I tighten up. It becomes NOT fun. My memory of this landscape was of spaciousness, light, warmth, aliveness and freedom, and that's what I wanted to experience and to capture.
Then I had a bit of an inspiration taken from the days when I was teaching drawing. What if I turned both the photo and the canvas upside down? Upside down drawing helps to simplify the experience when one is having a hard time separating descriptive line from, for example, the labels "nose" or "eye".
Well, what can I say? It worked! Suddenly the photo became shapes and colors, lines and values. No sky, no water, no grasses, no clouds. Loosened up by this detachment from "reality" I was able to paint more freely and create a painting that worked.

"Salt Marsh, New Brunswick"

This is a small painting for me--only 8" x 10"--it has become a study for a larger work I started this week. I like this new way of working...

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