The last few days have been spent working on the analytical side of being an artist.
I have now listed my goals for 2009 (see my last post) and have drawn up a bi-weekly schedule in order to fulfill them. Some will take months – others I expect to complete by the end of February. Others still will be ongoing; their function perhaps more to create good habits than so much an end product. I am quite happy with this list!
Frankly, everything I have been doing of late has been analytical. From getting the information I need to update and reform my website, to getting myself into the mindset writing CSS – to the way I am looking at the natural world around me. My focus with my eyes and to some extent my camera has had less to do with the aesthetic and more with how I need to see something in order to paint it. Take, for example, the photo below. I took it for the simple purpose of looking at the light and the tree branches – how they interacted. It is a great example of a simple reference photo.
I went for a wonderful hike in the bush with snowshoes the other day. I am a bit anemic, so my pace was a little slower than usual. The advantage to this was the need for frequent stops. They allowed me to soak in the environment, look at the light and see the colour of Winter (I went just before sunset and returned as it was getting dark). I bundled myself well and when I reached the farthest and highest point, I dropped myself in the snow and looked up. I observed the way the light changed the colour of objects around me as the sun got lower and lower. The branches of trees went from rich gold with dark twigs to the colour of blood orange that was so intense the chroma took over completely obliterating the natural colour of the branches. I purposefully left the camera at home so I could watch this transformation. Acrylic paints are lousy at 0˚C, never mind -10˚C, so painting was out of the question, so I got to just watch.
Sometimes, the simple act of observation gives us the insight that struggling with paint or a camera might distract us from. As an artist, these times are like a meditation. I highly recommend it for its own sake – not to mention the fundamental value of getting out of the house or the studio and doing some exercise!
So perhaps the fallout of some of my goals and their need for analysis has been the exercise of observation. Something that I hope will improve the experience of painting – which – I must get back to!