This summer’s hike with my family reminded me, as an artist, how we truly can paint memories. As a plein- air artist, capturing the moment with all the emotion and spirit that a photo can’t accomplish, provides me with such clarity of the memory of my joy, and carefree time spent at the high sierra lake.
The selected simplicity of each brush stroke, loaded with the scent of red madder mixed with the purity of cerulean blue, let me express my excitement of the day swimming in the cold, clear mountain lake. The gnarled trees scattered playfully on the lake islands, the clear blue sky, and the age-old slabs of granite, warmed by the sun…all flood my senses, as I view the finished piece.
These memories will always fuel my future paintings of memories to come.
I was fortunate to begin “painting from life” early-on during the 1970′s, while in art school in San Francisco.
Continuing with oil and watercolor “on location painting”, I became more challenged with painting during long hiking excursions from California’s Lost Coast to the Serria Nevada Mts, of Yosemite. It was during the 1980′s that my plein air painting began to capture the Swiss Alps, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and numerous jaunts to Southern Chile.
As all plein air painters know, the less one brings on location, the better. For this reason it is a distinct advantage for watercolorist.
Packing for a painting trip to a foreign country isn’t the same as packing for a car trip, of course. While the oil painter has to worry about shipping flammable materials and packing bulky panels or canvas, Ican get away with water and paper. My equipment consists of an easel and a small bag to hold tube paints, brushes, pencils, paper, palette and several small sheet of Arches 300-lb cold-press paper.
With a water container and camera slung over my shoulder, I am ready to go. The equipment itself may not be that much more portable than that of my oil paints, but when it comes to clean up and packing up, there is a notable difference. Furthermore, I am able to finish three or four paintings a day, compared to the two managing oils. Another advantage is that at the end of the week, when I’m asked to display my paintings at the hotel reception or art center, the worry of transporting and handling completely dry works is much easier.