Sunday, September 12, 2010

Smaller and Smaller

Greetings Dear Reader-
I've shared with you in the past about my ever more narrow challenges dedicated to learning about what makes up the landscape around me here in south central Nebraska.  I've gone from painting whatever I decide is valuable, such as our fabulous skies, wide open horizons, undulating hills covered with crops, etc. to small, overlooked corners of overgrown city lots.
Eighteen months ago my Canadian friend Mavis Penney and I embarked on a 100-day project painting only what we could see from a highway.  Quite honestly the first weeks of that project didn't change the way I looked at the world much, because highways criss-cross my part of the word at fairly frequent intervals. 
The limitations of that project soon opened my eyes, though and I found amazing, delightful things to paint that stretched my aesthetic and my talents.  That project opened another challenge for me to paint only what I found in a single square mile.  Suddenly I was finding excitement and interest in spaces I'd overlooked before.
And this summer I've narrowed my focus even more by limiting myself to a 2-block area for plein air painting.  Removing choices from the wide range of available options has proven to be a gold mine for learning about myself and what makes up the world around me.
Mavis has gone one step further with her painting challenge.  In order to regenerate her interest in watercolors and to focus her prodigious talents in the act of painting itself, she has taken on her own backyard.  Repeatedly.  Her work is exciting, loose, fresh.  It'll be very interesting to see how she grows, and her work along with her.
Skip on over and take a look.  You'll be imressed, and even inspired to take a closer look at your own backyard. 
And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

2 comments:

Mavis said...

Hi Patricia:

Thank you for this wonderful recommendation of my backyard project, and especially for your original suggestion that got it started!
I agree with you that narrowing the Options means deepening the Scope of the examination.
I'm finding myself doing visual problem-solving even when the paints aren't in front of me... things like..."How would I emphasize this pink?" or "How can I show the scale of this tree?"
Painting from observation is a discipline, and a bit of hard work, and it's also a whole lot of fun!

Thank you,
-Mavis

Gwenn said...

Limitations feed creativity: I've definitely found that in my own work. I'm all for artistic exploration, but if the territory one is exploring becomes too big it's difficult to explore very thoroughly!