Swamp / oil / finished?

IMG_2429 (1)

Some thoughts about how to capture moving light:

When I got there around 8AM, the trees in the background had that nice broken light but the cypress knees in the foreground were in the shade. I had to start with the background and by the time I worked my way across the painting marking in light and shadow areas it all changed and the knees had good light, so I could continue defining light and shadows in that area. The light wasn’t good on any area very long and I work slowly so this isn’t reality but kind of idealistic.

I hear so many Plein air painters talk about capturing a moment and I can’t do it. Instead, I like to think I’m stopping time. It’s not really magic but an illusion. It seems like if I had to capture a moment I’d have to paint fast. The way that works for me is to slow waaaay down. Keep going back to the same place at the same time of day and the light will be the same. You can have 50 hours of 9AM to 10AM over the course of weeks, or, in my case months. Imagine that! If I’m there for 50 hours off and on, I’ve collected 50 hours of me not moving much or working fast, but standing in that beautiful spot. It’s mine boggling. It’s like breaking the laws of time and art and getting away with it.

I say I’m breaking the laws of art because it’s obvious I spent the time on this painting and the overlords in the art world don’t like to see a painting “labored” over. They think art should be fast and fun not hard to do and time consuming. They don’t understand a labor of love. They don’t understand that it’s good for your self esteem to work hard on something and finish it.

Also, I’m using my small brushes. oh no. IMG_2432

This cypress knee is the star of the show. the other parts are back up singers and musicians. Darn, this photo looks a little blurry. IMG_2433

This clump is working as a secondary focal point. It’s good to have something happening in the shadows because the viewer’s eye likes to rest in a shadow then go back around to the brighter contrasts in the light.

There’s another great view in the swamp I’d like to try to paint. The cypress knees are half green because they’re covered with lichens.

19 thoughts on “Swamp / oil / finished?”

  1. What a marvel, Chris.

    Even more marvelous has been your commentary on the steps by which you achieved this and the conditions which pertained while you were working on this and the art and artifice (illusion) needed.

    My long in and out of museums has shown me that it matters most what the artist sees and what s/he wants to portray and say. And often their work is hard because there are conventions imposed on what we see and how we represent it by overlords, tradition and DNA.

    Your statement about stopping time is very interesting also. It is you who have had the discipline to stop repeatedly to capture eternity in a swamp. Wonderful!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! The blog is my only way of being heard because my paintings don’t get hung in juried shows. I’m glad you enjoy reading my thoughts! The viewer’s thoughts are more important than mine though, because the painting speaks for itself, but it could mean something else to the public. In art school they told us that the viewer’s interpretation is the correct one.


  2. I hope you do put this in for a juried show, Chris. Why not?

    That last statement about the correctness of the viewer’s interpretation……..I am with Marcel Duchamp who said exactly this but with an additional important rider: the viewer’s interpretation is correct so long as the viewer has been ‘properly instructed’.

    That is why your commentary on how your lengthy process here is important. And while I don’t disagree that the painting speaks for itself, your commentary is one part of Duchamp’s ‘proper instruction’.

    There is second part of this proper instruction and that is the artistic tradition in which you work. The viewer needs some knowledge of this also because things don’t come from nothing and without this knowledge it is difficult to understand what was new and pressing-onwards about Cezanne, Van Gogh, the Impressionists and so many others.

    Just my thoughts. The painting is wonderful. I hope you put it into a juried show.

    The next juried show at my local (regional) museum (Woodmere in Philly) has as its subject ‘Seeing the Story’. Your painting would have fitted right in because you have told a multi-level story: about seeing, about time, about a very rich piece of your local ecology, about a woman ‘fitting into’ and absorbing her local landscape. But Norfolk is not within 50 miles of Philly, unfortunately.

    So I hope you do look about and around and see if there is not somewhere else where you can show this painting. If not, I hope you will think about showing it in venues – to children and others – in which you can share the painting , the process you worked out to paint it and the multiple angles from which it can be seen!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all the info! I kept everything I learned at art school in the back of my mind for so many years and didn’t use it but I never knew those were Duchamp’s ideas too!
      And thanks for the encouragement ! And I hope someone gets a different perspective by looking at life through my eyes.
      I doubt I’ll enter this. I’ve had it up to here with paying to enter and getting rejected. They don’t refund your entry fee. The system is a rip off and extremely narrow minded and it seems like everyone including artists believe what the experts say, even with evidence of spite towards art like the banana taped to the wall.
      I could write a book but I probably won’t do that. I could teach this method but people want to take lessons from a commercially successful artist who can boost their career. These are a few of the reasons I’m practically reclusive at this point in life. Amazingly, I feel better mentally with this attitude than I felt when I was really trying to find recognition. I have to face it, WordPress is only going to reach a certain number of people and they are supportive. That’s ok with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Searched a couple of key words and I think you started considering this project sometime in late October. That’s not a really long time for someone who has to actually be at the location in order to paint. Life in the slow lane might not really be that slow when all circumstances are taken into consideration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Compared to other plein air artists that knock out a painting in a couple hours I’m real slow, but I like my daughter’s idea “Live fast, die young. Live slow, die later.”
      I appreciate your input, Alli.

      Liked by 1 person

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