Blues Turn Brilliant

Spalding Inn paintingLast February (2010), I began this oil painting of a landscape in the White Mountains.

Because I had other work to complete first, this painting progressed slowly.

For about four months, this painting was on my living room wall.  I knew that it needed something… I just couldn’t figure out what.

Last week, I read a book by artist Thomas Kinkade, Masterworks of Light.  It’s a lovely book, of course.  He’s brilliant at capturing a sense of light within his landscapes.

Thomas Kinkade - Masterworks of LightIn one interview, Kinkade mentioned the importance of providing a path, or some way the viewer feels that he or she can access the scene… a way to “walk into it” or otherwise connect with the landscape.

That’s what was missing from earlier versions of my painting of the hotel.

When I reviewed the evolution of this work, I realized that the original design (shown in my earlier article, When stuck, add energy!) actually presented the hills as obstacles between the viewer and the hotel.

Once I added the path, shown in the top photo on this page, the entire imagery changed. Suddenly, I saw ways to simplify the design and add a better sense of light & shadow.  The painting is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

At this point, I think the general landscape is completed.  The hotel needs small details such as windows (one of them lit) and a light at the front door.

For now, this painting has acquired a sense of whimsy.  I like it.  That’s the important part.

I’m letting the painting dry now, so I can paint over the front of the hotel (adding details) without disturbing the latest layers of paint.

This painting has been an adventure, and a very satisfying one.  I’ve learned a lot from it.

It’s not my usual style.  It’s simplistic, and reminds me a little of the work of Tomie dePaola.  (Interestingly, he taught at the college I first attended, but he arrived a couple of years after I’d left.)

Update: This painting was completed on St. Patrick’s Day 2011 (17 March).  See the finished canvas at Spalding Inn Painting – Final version.

Additional thoughts

One of the things I’m realizing as I thrill to the energy in this painting is: I  really am — first and foremost — an artist.  It’s where I’m happiest.

Everything else… well, it’s easy for me to get caught up in what I do well, things that I seem to be gifted at, and things that people want from me, and ignore what feeds my soul.

I’m reminded of the warning given to bright girls in the 1960s: Don’t learn to type. (Once people knew we could type, we were quickly assigned the role of secretary/receptionist in almost any business or club environment.)

I had already decided to “semi-retire” from my non-art work in November 2010, and possibly phase it out (as a nearly full-time profession) by the end of 2011.

Seeing how art energizes me, from a recent visits to the Vermont Visitors’ Center on Rte. 91 and to the MIT Museum, and how juicy the imagery is in that Tomie dePaola link I shared above… well, the conclusion is simple:  I need to focus on my art, and let everything else be a spare-time interest.

I’m also reading the notes about the TOMIE & HIS STUFF exhibit, and realizing that I don’t display my stuff enough.  In fact, most of it is in storage, and — if we’re moving to England, as we (maybe/probably) plan to around 2012 — I need to remember what inspires me, and what needs to travel with me.

So, there’s a lot going on in my life and in my thoughts right now.

It’s all very, very good!

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