Pausing in the Shade, February 3, 2010

Pausing in the Shade

I will always remember this moment, with humor.  I was midway through an 8-day Plein Air event in Waxahachie, Texas, June 2009.  More than fifty painters converged on the city, and were cranking out magnificent works.  I had completed one that morning, while it was still cool, and now, in the hottest part of that June day, felt I needed to crank out one more before heading home (45 minutes away).  Sitting in the shade of one of their historic abandoned railroad depots, I spotted a beautiful stand of trees in back, and decided to give them a try.

For any of you who have followed my work, you probably already realize what I had not myself realized until that day–that the subject of my work is always a human structure (I had not yet painted horses).  My work always focused on a building, a vehicle, a train–always some piece of human technology abandoned.  Never nature alone.  Recently I have posted on the blog some trees and moonlit sky, etc., but those were from the 1980’s.

So . . . as I worked on this piece, and neared completion, I noticed how vague and abstract the tree foliage was, as well as the grasses beneath, and felt uncomfortable that the painting was not strong enough to stand on just that.  So what do I do?  I add railroad tracks, a line of telephone poles, and voila I’m in the comfort zone once again!  Maybe I need therapy.  But to date, I still haven’t watercolored pure nature–I always insert the human intrusion.

Anyway, I laugh at this work, because it shows my insecurity as a painter of nature.  I need to get over it.

Thanks for looking, and reading.


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2 Responses to “Pausing in the Shade, February 3, 2010”

  1. lesliepaints Says:

    I felt very much the same way, David when I worked on my cloud series. There is something very abstract and wonderful about nature, alone. I am hoping by practicing painting nature without buildings or figures that I will learn more and step ever closer to how to render it.


  2. David Tripp Says:

    I need to take a page from your playbook here, Leslie. Your clouds are magnificent, and it’s gratifying to see your growth as you worked through them. Thanks for posting the process and sharing with us what you thought and how you changed your approach as you encountered this composition. I have yet to paint raw nature from watercolor, but I think I’m about to pounce on it.


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