|5x6 pastel on somerset|
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.