Just Beginning Along Sheep Creek

Why This Place?

It can be a challenge sometimes to settle on a place to paint out in the open or plein air. Recently I was out painting and some man slowed his truck to a stop and said “looks like you found a scene”.  I try to keep an idea of places that might make a good “scene”

How I come to that conclusion is a mystery. I go to an area – get out of the car and walk around, maybe walk some distance looking for something that would make a good painting. The light and shadows is important, clouds if I’m lucky. Color, if I’m fortunate draws me in also. But sometimes I have no idea why I like a certain view. This process can take time because looking takes time. But if you take too long the shadows disappear!

Presently I paint my local surroundings. While my paintings are about known connections to the real world my mind can jump to other kinds of connections.

The above landscape has childhood memories associated with this location. It used to the home of a grade school classmate and her family. That house would have sat in the meadow but the family had to sell out. The new owner tore down all the buildings and lives elsewhere but only part time.  So does that rather sentimental memory contribute to how I paint this particular place?

The image above shows my set up on the first day. During the development of the painting, I went there 3 times during the morning because the light shifted by early afternoon. It is said that the more times you spend at one location, the more important it becomes. One day while I was packing my gear in the back of the car, a coyote came right up to the front of the car apparently not seeing me. Unusual but moved away when I waved. Then there were the swallows that build their mud homes on the cliffs above the creek, swooping overhead. I was a stranger in their territory! All of this to say this place gains more history in my mind because of positive and negative experiences while I painted there.

Once you are outdoors without a screen, cell phone, TV and other distractions what makes us choose one place over another to paint? Drop me a comment if you want to add to this conversation. Meanwhile happy painting

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