Saturday, May 30, 2020

Learning... "to See"... to Create One's Own Vision

"Seeing"... Develops From Looking... But they do NOT Share the Same Meaning

A true Artist spends his/her entire lifetime searching for new thoughts... ideas and connections that continue to feed and motivate further voyages of discovery... to better their craft... their person... or their simple "thirst for knowledge."

Seeking to follow this path will demand  risking... sacrifice and a willingness to accept new beliefs... or possibilities For most artists who embark on this journey, there is likely little (if any) guarantee of wealth or acceptance. It is truly the path that the iconic American poet Robert Frost described in his epic favorite... "The Road Not Taken."

Making Art... is but one part of the voyage..The visual manifestation of the "inner voice"... or soul. The brushstrokes... when arranged poetically create a harmony and "being"... unlike any other produced by any other. Over time the practice leads to the development of a unique and confidentially different style which separates the artist's work from that of others.

"One cannot hold moonlight in one's hand. But always put your dreams in the Light. For without you...they may never be seen."

I would encourage an aspiring or beginning artist to carry a sketch pad... with tools of choice wherever you go. Record findings... reflections... simple notations that might inspire deeper thought and perhaps the meat back in your studio to make a painting. Make small "notan" sketches that can form building blocks and inspiration when time... and the "Muse" coincide.

I would encourage you to venture out with a simple painting kit (your choice of medium)... portable easel to a quiet destination where you can work in complete privacy and solitude. Keep your goals simple... and your expectations grounded firmly under you. Experience... DOES MATTER!!!

Finally... you will most likely find yourself driven to "copying" the scene as exactly as it lays before you. It will likely be overly fussy in detail at first. But as you become fore comfortable with the tools and Nature's "guidelines" ... emphasis on the GUIDE part!

Begin taking risks... until at last... over time you will gain comfort and fluidity to your thinking.... and "brushwork." Brushstrokes can be likened to musical notes... the sum total of these create a musical "score"... painting.

I would like to present a visual presentation here for you which I feel demonstrates clearly how  painting en plein air (on location) can result in improved results... if you are willing to risk.

"Last Vestige of Winter, Rock Lake" - oil on toned panel 12 x 16 inches

This plein air sketch was created in about three hours start to finish... in very low light conditions. But I was satisfied that it caught the spirit of what lay before me and had interesting shapes and ideas to be explored in better conditions... and comfort.

The embedded memory of this wee quick sketch continued to pique my interest. So much so, that on another sketching trip the next day, I returned to the location ready... and primed by the previous art-ifact (LOL). Here is the result of this adventure...

"Morning Shadows... Rock Lake, Algonquin Park"- oil canvas 20 x 24 inches

Changes???   Larger format/space to push paint. More obvious and pleasing to me though was the illumination added to the scene. It had life added.. a certain "joie du vivre" which speaks deeply and truthfully, I think from within me to the viewer.

Finished - success. Move on. Yes ... I did feel that way for a good many years. I felt a certain sense of triumph in "capturing" that location. Everyone that I had shared it with knew the spot immediately and agreed.

But something ... again deep within me screamed out to be addressed. Hmmmm...

So I stepped to it again back in the studio..... last week!!

There has been a VERY substantial shift and change in composition in this one. What is missing? Is that shape/form truly... missed? Or does its absence leave an opening for another and perhaps more pleasing interpretation and result?
I wonder...

I removed the right hand fir tree by "scumbling" and sanding it into oblivion. I was careful to repaint those areas changed with more pigment... lest the image  bleed through later

Here is the way I finished the painting. I am pleased. What are your thoughts... I'd be interested. What is accomplished... if ranching to take such  a drastic and destructive step away from the original concept?

I'm satisfied! I "own " it because I created it using new elements and removing those that I felt were less effective. Mother Nature is hardly perfect. What else matters??? Onward!

Good painting to ALL!

                           "Morning Shadows, Rock Lake, Algonquin Park" -
                                 Oil on gallery wrap canvas 16 x 20 inches


  1. Hi Bruce,
    I found myself agreeing with every word in the first paragraphs. They would make an excellent primer for anyone starting out on their artistic journey.

    I like both later versions of the painting. The first one has a feeling of a view glimpsed through the trees, and it seems almost secretive and intimate. The second one is more open and sunny, and has an optimistic quality, suggesting that change is coming.

    They all show how much difference light and composition can make to a subject, which neatly comes back to your first point about the importance of first hand experience.

    Wise words!
    All the best,

  2. Thank you for visiting and sharing your ideas here Keith! As is always the case your insights and methods directly link with my own for basically the same reasons. We are kindred spirits... who thrive on the directness of our common outdoor experiences.

    Nature influences and elevates our creativity to new levels.

    Good painting! Stay safe!

    Warmest regards,

  3. Hope all is well Bruce. It’s been a long time since you’ve posted....