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Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Painting Advice from Degas

'Mountain Memories'           8x10         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $150
It really is amazing. We have the ability to retain so much information and to recall it at will. This ability can help us create stronger paintings if we let it. But we often don't allow it to happen. We become slaves to our references. If we work from photos they often become a crutch. It is a scary thought to put the photo away and work from our memory and experience with the subject  of the photo. But giving ourselves the freedom and permission to put the photos away can result in paintings that have more meaning. We tend to only include what we remember....what meant the most or made the biggest impression.

I happened to find another quote from Degas that made me stop and think as I finished today's painting.
“It is very good to copy what one sees; it is much better to draw what you can’t see any more but is in your memory. It is a transformation in which imagination and memory work together. You only reproduce what struck you, that is to say the necessary.”-Edgar Degas

my thumbnail from the small phone photo

For the painting in today's post I followed Degas advice quite by accident. I had a private student and we decided to do a paint-along using a photo she had on her phone. It was a scene from the Blue Ridge mountains, a place I have visited many times. We looked at the photo to create a quick thumbnail but then as we painted I could no longer see the photo.

I found myself transported to the mountains and my memories kicked in and guided my hand and my choices.  I realized that I really didn't need the photo at all. I just needed to channel my memories and imagination and create an interesting composition that expressed what I was feeling. It was a wonderful feeling. I was FREE from the restraints of the photo.

Try It!  Take a scene that you are intimately familiar with. You can use a photo to start the painting but then put it away and let your memories and imagination take over. See what develops. Trust yourself!

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