These are wonderful times to be an artist. New technologies, superior paints and brushes, digital photography and the fact that abstraction and realism co-exist in the art world. Many artists are taking lessons learned from abstraction and applying them to naturalistic painting. I like to be more expressive in my painting by abstracting color and form and combining that with the symbolism of recognizable objects, places and people. In this way the beauty of paint becomes as important as the subject matter. A former instructor of mine termed it painterly realism.
I’m currently working on a series that began at Virginia Claytor’s (c.1790) estate preserved as the Claytor Nature Center in Bedford, VA. A couple of the paintings are titled Virginia’s House, View from Virginia’s House, and Virginia’s Yellow Tree. I like the idea of Virginia as a person and as a place.
Working plein aire has given me a new appreciation for painting. Making a day for painting instead of fitting painting into my day is a superior way to work. I also enjoy immersing myself in beautiful surroundings and using it as subject matter. God has been most generous and through painting I can honor Him.
Another thing the Virginia paintings have in common is a very limited palette using only three colors and white. This streamlines the painting process. Paintings can be completed in only one or two sessions. This helps to retain the freshness of the paint.
I work in oils because they’re natural. What better way to paint the earth than by materials that come from the earth?