Sunday, October 28, 2012

Don't Need It? - Ditch It

Every now and then it does a body good to go outside the normal viewing area and paint something new. So yesterday I went to Las Cruces with a friend from the Black Range Painters and the Southwest New Mexico Plein Air Painters. There were about 6 or 7 of us. I never was good with math. (And I honestly didn’t count the bodies.)
Dripping Springs is a National Recreation area. I guess it’s not a National Park, but the difference eludes me. My old crusty senior pass got me in for free, so I was glad it was under Federal control. State control would have meant a parking fee. And there were restrooms, a real plus when you go out to paint.
Dripping Springs National Recreation Area and Trail
 It was cool in the early morning and in the desert that means no early snakes. Another plus. I certainly wouldn’t want to be there in the heat of the year. The place looked to be toasty more often than not. But it was crisp and cool this morning. The mountains had a slight haze, but the shadows were deep and dark, cool too. It didn’t take long to get the composition down. I opted for a dynamic interpretation of the land, with a real Z thing going on.
Dripping Springs - La Cueva Formation
11x14 Oil on Wood Panel

In fact I even played god and ditched a far off part of the mountain range, which leads me to my point today. If you don’t think it will help the piece, ditch it. Who says you have to have 14 trees in a row if you only feel three will do it? A painter paints, but an artist creates. Its art knowing what to keep, not how many blades of grass make up the green area of the painting. So some days I take real liberties with what is in front of me. Even Monet moved trees. An observer commented on a painting in progress saying he could only see one tree, not two. Monet told him the second tree was behind him. If it works, who am I to argue?
Favorite quote:
Artists are the people among us who realize creation didn't stop on the sixth day. (Joel Peter Witkin)


  1. For me, the ability to add and subtract is a key characteristic of those who have moved beyond the beginner hobby artist stage

    1. I have always considered a master, any artist who could create a tension compositionally, that compels the viewer to look at the painting more than just in passing. The paintings that pull me back are those with some sort of interaction with the viewer. I think that is why "The Scream" is such a piece. We have all been there. It creates a bond and a tension when you view it. But this composition just was THERE. You had only to open your eyes. My friend who painted the same view had a very calm piece, with minimal energy, but a lovely peacefulness. Same place, same day, two very different interpretations.