Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are You and the Light on the Same Page?

I went to San Juan Capistrano twice this week.  One morning was overcast and almost foggy.  The other morning had brilliant sun.  

On the gray morning, the flowers stood out.  They were fluorescent against all of the grays.  The flowers were all I saw.  The Mission architecture faded into the background.  There was no way to paint anything but the flowers.  They were the focal point.

On the sunny morning, I took my mother because I specifically wanted to show her the flowers because they had been so beautiful.  They were still there but, amidst the brilliant light reflecting off the Mission walls and the pathways, the flowers were lost.  They didn't dominate the scene.  The light on the white-washed walls made the architecture dominant.

As much as we are the master of our paintings, sometimes nature dictates the focus.  It would have been difficult to make a painting about the Mission on the overcast day, and also difficult to make a painting about the flowers on the brilliant day.  

Look very closely at the light and the weather when painting on location.  A painting is a story, but some of the story is written before the artist arrives. Some ideas might succeed better on a different day.

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