I spend a lot of time in my head, thinking about how to translate what I see in the physical world and represent it on a canvas. The lines, the symmetry, the textures are everywhere. Most of the time when I create I do not have a plan. In fact, I have found that intuition based painting has allowed me to break free of many of the barriers that still linger from my past.
Now that I feel free to create, my intuition often takes over, becoming a dominant driver to what I express on canvas. This past weekend was a bit different...This time, I went in with a plan, at least more of one than I have had in the past.
In July of 2020 I spent a day painting on the Willamette River, I called the painting Rivervilla. It’s a large painting, stretching 18”x 36”x 2” and is a painting of the vantage point of where I stood one year ago. It now hangs on the wall of a dear friend of mine, who has become a regular consumer of my art.
One year later, I revisited this same place on the Willamette with a plan to recreate that same scene from a year ago. I was curious to see how after a year my style, methods, and overall skills may have evolved - and even more curious to see how incorporating a new color grid technique would work for me, as this was the first time to ever use a more systematic (planned) approach to my plein air.
Typically when I paint my palette tends to act as more of a free flow canvas of its own, where I instinctively mix my paints. More recently I have been trying to tap into the more methodical approach of when to use warmer vs cooler colors. I had never created or used a color grid in the past, but found it incredibly useful. Not only did the color grid help me to identify warmer and cooler colors, but it also allowed me to slow down-take notice of just where these colors fit into the landscape.
I had a lot of fun revisiting the nearly identical scene from the previous year and while the majority of the landscape looked the same, I noticed that I did not paint the same.
Using my color grid with yellows across the top and blues across the left, I mixed the two 50/50 with intention. I found that using my color grid helped to bring awareness to the variations of temperature to not only the paint on my pallet, but also to the foreground, background, and middleground of the scene I was recreating.
Combined with a year of painting plein air under my belt and the use of my color grid, I felt more confident in capturing the detail of my landscape more vividly. I found myself using a more methodical process when capturing the warms and cools of the grassy slope that was both soaked in sun, but also spotted in shade. The far shoreline was a particular challenge for me a year ago, struggling to bring dimension to the shoreline. A year later I felt capable of painting this same shoreline with a sense of liveliness.
Perhaps the greatest take away from painting at Rivervilla round two was that I have evolved and still have so much left to learn. I find that I am painting with more emotion and intention, bringing awareness to the intricacies of what I want to capture.
Summer Day at Rivervilla, July 2021 is now available for purchase on my website.