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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Confessions of a Seasonal Painter


'Reflection'             9x12            pastel            ©Karen Margulis

I am a seasonal painter.  I love painting the landscape in every season. Every season has moments that inspire me.  I love the colors of fall. I LOVE painting snow. Spring brings flowers and summer brings long days and Queen Annes Lace.  But.... I only like to paint each season in that season. I can't wait to paint snow but I need to wait for winter. I am funny like that.

Maybe it is because being present in the season inspires me. When I am surrounded by the smells and colors of fall and the first crisp clear days I want to capture these feelings in a painting. Sure I can look at photos of snow in the heat of summer but unless I am on top of a snow capped peak somewhere in the arctic.....I don't feel inspired to paint it.

It's getting cooler in Georgia and the leaves are starting to turn. The smell of Cinnamon brooms and pinecones greets us in the grocery store. This is a sure sign of fall. It feels only right that I should paint autumn landscapes. 

watercolor underpainting
The wonderful thing about being a seasonal painter is the excitement of revisiting a favorite subject as each new season arrives. It is always interesting to look back on previous years to see how I painted the season. How have I grown as an artist? Are my autumn trees changing? How? The answers to these questions are important. They help me understand where I have been and where I am going.

As fall arrives I begin my annual reflection and begin a new series of fall paintings. After a few weeks I will have exhausted this subject and will look forward to the next season.

Painting notes:  9x12 white Wallis paper with a watercolor underpainting.

4 comments:

Sue Marrazzo said...

What a stunner!!

Eileen Sullivan said...

This is lovely--I'm such a sucker for autumn color!

Debbie Nees said...

I too am a seasonal painter and what you said is the way I feel each season. Thanks for putting words to what I do!

robertsloan2art said...

I love both the painting and the story! I can see why you're a seasonal painter. When I lived in Arkansas especially, I got into painting the seasons because I had a good view from my window and even indoors could watch the seasons. Same thing with Kansas except I did fewer winter paintings.

But for most of my life I've been a dreamer painting places far away, often places I'd never been - and they were always my dreams of the warm, of a place of endless summer. When I moved to New Orleans where the seasons are basically Wet and Dry, I came to love its seasons for what they were - but I wasn't doing landscapes then.

What's become so strange is that all the years of travel and enduring climates I could not thrive in are still there. The more I paint from memory, the clearer those memories become. Scenes that thirty years ago I wished I could paint - like every single time I visited an ocean - come back to me now and I'm at peace with the pace of my life. It doesn't matter that I could not sketch then. I tried and I looked at everything as if I could draw or paint it. Now when a photo reminds me of one of those memories it rushes back with all the sound and scent and color of reality.

We are shaped by our experiences and bodies. I don't see as well as I did when I was young either, but that helps me paint looser and more concise. I got lost in detail at that age and literally didn't know how to sketch, only draw realism.

Fall was always the easy time of year in places with seasons - all romances of my life happened in fall because that was when I was strong enough to think about love. Here in San Francisco where flowers bloom year round, fall landscapes still bring long past lovers to mind and the smell of leaves on the ground, the crisp comfort of air that cools enough to be outdoors.

Thank you for a wonderful article. I envy your seasonality but I really don't, since I am now in the best time of my life in the best place I've ever lived. Here I can paint flowers all year long and never get snowed in or so heat sick I can't go outdoors. My pace is slow but it's comfortable with plenty of time to paint and at last the skill to do it to my satisfaction.