Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Alabama - When is a painting done?

Final stage at Oak Mountain State Park
A confounding question: When is a painting done? When I am "Easeling" I rarely paint more than three hours at one sitting. It mostly just works out that way. It is exaughsting to work outside, especially when it's cold or windy or otherwise inclement. And, finding the spot first, then moving to a new place after (to stay the night) takes energy. There is no use in painting when tired. So, I stop and stack the painting in the car, confident that I will put more time into it once I'm home in my studio. 

But now here I am, with four fresh works before me and I wonder whether or not to touch them at all. They are complete in that they are a direct record of each particular time and place, how I felt in general and my reactions to the environment - all things that can't be replicated.  Who am I to mess around with that? And I am quite sure that the freshness of my actions when painting on-site can't be reinvented. So, when I consider one of my plein air paintings, I always feel a little afraid of going back into it. But, there is one here that clearly needs more paint: Alabama.

I was dragging that afternoon (I had driven 11 hours the day before and 3 to get there) and I felt unwell, but I did capably catch the values and also set down a strong drawing. So yesterday, in the studio, I had a solid foundation with which to work. I spent 5 straight hours on it and I think it is done. It clearly does not have the high-energy vibe of the on-the-spot version, but I think it is stronger because the colors are closer to real and the texture is rich. Now, to approach the other three!

Alabama (I think it is done)

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