As the temperatures climb into summer, we’ve just had the hottest October on record. My brushes have been up and out early in the morning for their dip into paint. I’ve been exploring the banks of a creek near my home where magnificent old River Redgums grow. Their warm white trunks reflect the colours that surround them. It’s cool and shaded open country, with long shadows and distant views that are framed by branches. And
I never have to walk very far before finding something that catches my interest enough to paint it. At this time of morning shadows are on the move with the rising sun. I walk along the bank with my view finder and sketchbook in hand; easel, tripod and paint in my backpack. I frame patterns of light and shadow to begin with. If something grabs me I draw a basic sketch, reducing the pattern down to 6 tones. Through simplifying the patterns I begin to work out what I find so interesting. Is it colour relationships, the texture of an area or the quality of a thing? What I paint is not necessarily an object. My subject is more elusive than that and the pattern is the structure that supports my subject.
I seem to discover the subject of a painting through the process of painting. This may sound strange as my paintings at present are fairly representational. But I’ve learned that painting is a way of thinking and experiencing. What draws me to this morning’s painting spot with long changing shadows is that my starting point is unpredictable. Its like an abstract doodle where you put random marks on a page, then look at it for some time until your imagination fills in the blanks to create something. The interplay of light and shadow, branches and space are like those random marks. Nature offers us sooo much information and I have to chose what to include or leave out. It’s really hard and this compositional editing takes a lifetime of thought and practice.
The featured painting is called ‘Light on the Path’ and is available on my website under ‘Available’. It’s an oil painting on 300gm primed Fabriano paper, 18cm x 18cm (7″ X 7″).
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