About a month ago, I painted a scene at Fort Ebey State Park here on Whidbey Island. It was a scene looking through the fir trees towards the beach. You could see the Olympic Mountain foot hills across the water but the mountains themselves were lost in the haze. I was not satisfied with that painting but was attracted to the scene. So, I did another take in my studio using my original painting and a photo taken at the time as reference. I like this one better but still am not capturing something. Stay posted; the third pass is coming soon.
I follow artist Mary Gilkerson’s facebook page. In one of her recent posts she provides some tips regarding the “Art of Seeing” that seem worthwhile to pass along.
1. The more you look and observe, the more you’ll see.
Slow down and pay attention to the world around you. Try taking 10 minutes every morning or evening just to sit and watch the surrounding world. No smart phone, no tablet, no laptop. Unplug and look. The more you practice looking and noticing, the more you’ll see.
2. Become familiar with the changes in patterns of light and color at different times of day.
Try taking a brief walk every day along the same route. Again, totally unplug. No electronics. When you’re not distracted by electronic devices, you’ll begin to see the way that different times of day and different times of year affect those patterns of light and color.
3. Draw and paint from direct observation as much as possible.
Cameras interpret visual information differently than the human eye. This doesn’t mean you can’t work from photographs. But start supplementing working from photographs with working from life. Start simply and work up to more complex subjects. Keep a sketchbook and try making small thumbnails that record the shape and value relationships that you see. To do that make a small sketch, about 2 x 3”, that includes the 5-7 general large shapes and 3-5 values. Keep the shapes very simple, without details. Assign only one value or color for each shape or color mass.
These are simple things which contain, I think, great value for all of us working in any of the arts not just visual artists. I credit myself for being observant but wonder just how “in the here and now” I am. Try these and let me know what your reaction and/or results are.
You can see her work at https//marygilkerson.com.