Thursday, May 19, 2011

Paint Out

Well the Wayne Art Center Plein Air Festival is happening, rain not with standing.
I have completed two paintings but they are not dry enough to scan in yet.  Both were started outside and finished from the window of my car.  This is not exactly what any of us involved in this planned for I'm sure.  Painting from the car in the rain is not easy.  There simply is not enough room and you can 't see exactly what you started painting, plus you must turn on the car and use the wind shield wipers periodically so you can see anything.  This does not have the grand feeling the french words 'Plein air' imply, to say the least.
The whole exercise got me thinking about what the act of painting is really about.  Why bother to reproduce what is there when the camera does it in a snap.
In the life of every painting there is an internal dialogue that the painter goes through.  The answers to the questions I ask myself as I am painting are recorded on the canvas.  "How shall I best begin" is the first of course, and from then on until the last question, "Is this all I can do?", there are hundreds of others.  "Is that the right shade of green?". "How many shingles is enough to say shingle?" "Which sky, of the many floating by, will be the best for the composition?". "Why bother with the shingles at all?" Have I gotten the whole thing crooked?. Why didn't I paint the bush in back first? And always at some point.  "What am I doing here ?"
I also have an interior dialogue about the quality of the work at hand.  Usually it starts out enthusiastically. "Now this is going to be good.  Look at that beautiful sky next to those dark trees.  Really yummy".  And then about half way through, "I should have planned this better and gotten the whole painting drawn in loosely.  It looks like a child did this".   Then later, "This is it, I am absolutely stuck and cannot go on. Better eat lunch or walk around before I throw in the towel". Then, if I'm lucky by the time I am really painted out I can say, "Not too bad.  It has a certain something, and I certainly gave it my all."
The dialogue is all recorded on the painting for better or worse.  So the answer to the question, "why paint instead of taking a snap shot", is that the dialogue is usually a lot longer and there is a lot of messy paint involved.