Studio Notes

a pair of geese flew by; outside my studio window; i’m glad elephants don’t fly

You don't need to go far to find interesting things to paint about, they’re just outside your door steps

Although the air temperature was comfortable while wearing a few light layers of clothing, the ground was still cold. Fortunately I have kept a packaging for a perishable gift from our friends. I used it as a barrier (see last image in slide) on the ground to help prevent the cold from transmitting from the ground through the shoes, and throughout the body. A cold body, of course, makes it uncomfortable to paint—cold feet, cold body.

I did two plein air studies of this marshland that is in between the soccer field (left) and Red Clay Creek (right). It is maybe 200 feet from our townhouse. I see this everyday and I would wonder how I could describe this landscape. There seem little that is tangible to my eyes, so I keep looking and studying it, and ask it what it has to show to me. Each time I do a painting of this landscape, it is not about its details, but what it conveys under different times of the day. It is never the same.

The first painting was made a day after winter storm Jonas blew out of town, and it was unusually warm for winter, so I took advantage of this and went outside to paint. I seldom wander far from my studio before I come across something that I would like to paint about. I have this mantra that I like to remind myself when I long to go to some far away place to paint: “I do not need to travel far to find interesting things to paint about, they are just outside my door steps.”

Recently, I came across this N. C. Wyeth quote which was a sweet affirmation:

“I don't believe any man who ever painted a great big picture did so by wandering from one place to another searching for interesting material. By the gods! there’s almost an inexhaustible supply of subjects right around my back door...”

N. C. Wyeth, 1907

Yesterday was our second year living in Kennett Square, and today is another beautiful mild winter day. The land is still thickly blanketed with snow. Mild temperatures and thickly snow-covered land made an ideal condition for a plein air painter itching to paint some snow scenes, but without the cold. It would have been a waste if I did not take advantage of this weather. So I rushed outside, but I forgot a few important things—my brushes. I ran back to my studio and returned. I forgot one more thing—my palette knife. This time I did not run back but worked with what I have with me. It is difficult to keep the palette clean without a palette knife. The second painting is also a plein air study of the same marshland. As with the previous day, it is never the same. It chooses what it wants to show to me.