Monday, July 21, 2014

“There is a kind of success that is indistinguishable from panic.”

"Orcas Island study" watercolor 10.5" x 13"
Sara Light-Waller, 2014

Edgar Degas said this, probably sometime during La Belle Époque (French for "Beautiful Era" spanning 1871 - 1914.) I feel this myself as I pull apart my strong representational art background and attempt to abstract forms in the landscape. Today, I took a deep steadying breath before starting this little painting of a rocky point off Orcas Island in the San Juans. I attempted to capture the feeling of a cool, heavy Washington day on the water. Including trees. Lots of dense, heavy trees. Feeling is what I’m after at this moment. Not so much highly-accurate foliage. Masses of greenery are terribly confusing to the eye. One needs to edit the scene down, simplify it, in order to paint it. Truly, this is a challenge that demands you go beyond technique (and fear) into something deeper and more personal. Capturing the feeling of a scene through color and abstracted shape is my task at the moment.

So how did I do with this one? My personal assessment is…not bad. Although I like much of it, the trees are too heavy. Next time I’ll change my thinking and consider other words when painting a small forest, words like soft, inviting, or mysterious and see what comes of that. In truth, I was thinking “dense forest” when I painted the trees on this little island. So I guess this was a case of getting what you paint for…. ha-ha! ;-)