Sunday, July 31, 2011

Downhill Painting

Rather than smile shyly and scuff my shoes on the ground while you gush forth with compliments I’m just going to say it right up front:  This is a mighty fine painting.  I love it, in fact.   

I knew the minute I saw this grove of trees south of the Platte River by Kearney, Nebraska it would make a wonderful painting.  The dark silhouette of the trees, the stragglers – or leaders, depending upon your personality, intrigued me.  I could even feel my arm move to create the brushstrokes I would use.  

I don’t usually spend a lot of time in preliminary work.  Despite the best efforts by teachers along the way to convert me into doing things "The Right Way", I don’t do sketches before hand to test compositions and values and color schemes.  For me it’s a quick sketch on the canvas to note landmarks, a glance at a color wheel to focus my thoughts and then jump right in before my brain has time to get in the way.
©2011 Patricia Scarborough  18x24 oil
Working this way requires a delicate balance, kind of like riding a bike down a steep hill. Equilibrium between experience and improvisation will get you to the bottom with limbs intact - most of the time. Often enough to get me back up to the top of the hill to try it again, anyway.
That may be partly why I love this painting. It’s the sweet memory of the ride, dodging potholes and parked cars with confidence, finding myself  at the bottom of a steep hill with no real idea how I got there. 
It's probably not a smart way to work.  I crash as often as I succeed and have the scars to prove it.
When the ride is good though, oooh, baby, it is soooo good.


Nicole said...

Like your thoughts on working before your brain gets in the way.

I found when do a lot of prelim sketches and planned everything the "Right Way" it wasn't fun or exciting anymore.

It is much more fun to crash and burn a few times and get back on that darn bike! BEAUTIFUL painting :)

Patty said...

Hey Nic! I bet you feel the same thing when you watch TV while you work. That small inner voice gets to have a lovely conversation with your paintbrush without interference from The Brain. Your work is wonderful!

Hannah said...

I am all for riding 'hell for leather' down the hill in whatever way strikes our artistic fancy. That phrase just popped into my mind so I had to look it up! “Hell for leather,”...means...“riding (a horse) very fast and recklessly.” Oh my goodness, I think it fits your process perfectly! Congrats on a gorgeous painting!

Patty said...

wow, I haven't heard that term in years! My mother used to say, "Hell bent for leather". Surely it takes a great deal of skill to ride a horse recklessly?!
Thanks - for the compliment and the memory!