Let me show you my best painting secret!
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Nature is astonishing. Consider the millions of processes working in our bodies every second whithout us having to think about it. The life all around us getting on with whatever process is required to sustain itself. Grass grows effortlessly - too effortlessly for my liking at this time of year. The point is that all of nature is following a path of truth and simplicity and is doing so without effort. This to me is the key in so many areas of life. Whenever I try to force something and it seems like so much hard work then I know it is not right. Perhaps it is matter of timing or simply not the course that is correct for me. Nature will have its way and we should try to follow these life rhythms too.
A few weeks ago I tried to paint a scene of hills covered with coastal bush and farm lands. Depending on the time of day the scene was restful but also had immense beauty. Shapes and light made this a great subject. In my enthusiasm to get started I was painting within half an hour. I had made a quick sketch and considered the composition, but I knew that I was diving in a bit early. Still I went ahead and of course the result was poor. I should have known, but I learnt the same lesson all over again. Take some time to consider the subject. Look and let yourself get a sense for the atmosphere. I had the luxury of time and had to ease myself into the subject.
After a few days of getting to know the area better and with a few studies done to prepare myself I felt ready to paint the subject again. The results this time were much better. The mood was there and the scene was simplified to what was important for me.
A general landscape needs emotional content to be worth something. So keep the scene simple by leaving out anything that does not add to the mood you are conveying. You can only know what to leave out once you have a feel for the subject itself. This takes time., but once you have this information the painting almost paints itself. It is effortless and a pleasure to do. These are profound moments that are within the grasp of all of us.
Take a few hours if you can to look at your subject and get to know it at different times of the day. Sure this is not always possible. When time is of the essence then you have to go for it, but if you can revisit a scene then make the effort. It will reward you with a painting that is above your previous level. These are the breakthrough moments and we all need them. It is also about learning your craft as an artist.
It is about intentional thinking and execution of a concept.