|'Make a Wish' 5x7 pastel plein air ©Karen Margulis|
painting available $95
"Even in front of Nature one must compose" Edgar Degas
Of course we must. But so often we don't. I'll go out on location and paint something exactly as I see it. I put in every tree and every fence post....even if these things don't result in the best composition. I can be too literal to the scene. I fail to interpret how I feel about the place and instead try to copy the place. (like we often do with photos)
Sometimes that is OK. If you are trying to record colors and detail then being literal gives you a lot of useful information to take back to the studio to edit and use for future paintings.
But more often for me the plein air experience is all about capturing fleeting moments. I don't want to worry about being perfectly true to the scene. I want to make it my own. I love the quote from Degas. He reminds us that everything in nature is not always arranged in the best possible composition. It is OK to take out trees and move mountains. We must use the elements before us and compose them into the most compelling arrangement.
Take today's painting. It is actually an older but favorite plein air painting of mine. I did it at a Richard McKInley workshop a few years ago. I remember being worn put from a day painting in the sun and wind. I sat down in the tall autumn grass for a break. I spotted a few spent dandelion puffs and got excited. This is my truth! I had to paint them but I needed to compose them. I wanted to arrange them in a more lyrical composition. I wanted to add more color. So I did!
|Here I am in Hope Valley, tired after a long day of painting|