Sunday, February 6, 2011

memory and Richard McKinley

5x6 pastel on somerset
This is a small memory inspired painting from my visit to Torrey Pines this December. No references were used, except those in my head.

In the recent comments I have noticed that one of the ideas people seem to have differed on most is - when should a painter try memory painting?
You of course can attempt it at any time.  It seems to me that it is helpful to understand certain truths about how the landscape translates into color and space.  It was not until I had painted the 2000 or so outdoor paintings that I truly felt I could trust myself with this treasure of knowledge and know that it would guide me. Yes, it would be slippery, but I had that treasure chest waiting to be opened.

To extend these thoughts more, I received an insightful email last week. My painting friend said,

"Of course, painting outside leaves us awash in way too much information, and whether the process is memory or selection, there has to be a way to know and to communicate what is really important. A teacher once said, gesturing at the landscape, "You're never going paint all that." It was an invitation to decide what was actually critical to paint.  Your Key Bridge pastel certainly did that--  extraordinary that it was from memory.  "
My friend here said everything I have felt before in my painting life (and you probably have too at one time.)  In reply I will bring back  what the very wise and generous Richard McKinley has taught me.

"If you merely copy what's in front of you, you are rendering reality. An artist needs to make choices, to take responsibility for what he/she wants the viewer to see, do and feel through the painting. You, the artist, are the magician. A painting is a compromise of reality."

So we do magic. A big piece of doing magic is deciding which reality you want your audience to believe. The "tricks" you do to accomplish their feat are up to you. That is really what painting is about- orchestrating a new reality that makes one think...oh, I wish I were there.


Jala Pfaff said...

Cool and quiet.

Cobalt Violet said...

Wow, beautiful pastel! Great Richard McKinley quote too!

Caroline said...

What a beautiful sky, and that tree is really nice too. It is true that we need to paint a great deal in order to know our subject well.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Your memory paintings always make me wish I could travel to the beautiful place you represent! Of course, 2000 paintings is a lot of experience to draw from, but I think that your keen observation, your poetic soul, and your appreciation and love of beauty all serve you well. Hope you're feeling better!!

Casey Klahn said...

I enjoyed looking at an RM video last night - a short one. He really is a good teacher.

loriann said...

Hi Jala, You are is very cool in temperature. Glad it feels quiet too.

Love your name Colbalt of my favorite colors. Thank you about the painting. RM has so much wisdom.

Hi Caroline, the sky queen. Thank you.

Hi Kvan and thank you for your kind words and support.Poetic soul...mmmmm.

Hi Casey,
Richard's words speak to me. They clear a path that is cluttered with junk. I will never paint like him, we are simply different souls. His words can cut through the chase. Glad you got to see one of his short videos.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

Very inspiring!

loriann said...

Thanks Elisabeth!