Painting Notes from Nature

When painting and sketching in the field, I am taking notes from nature. These little sketches are meant to be fast.  Though the response is quick,  observation should take time.   Some meditations usually occur before the rapid action of painting begins. This morning I read a short passage in a book that refers to Psalm 104:24 which reads,

“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creation.”

I can meditate on that and be reminded of a concept introduced to me as a painter several years ago. When painting nature in the field, one must take notes from her lessons directly from the source.  The study of the landscape, the situation of the landscape, the  little compositions that are happening here and there; her secrets reveal themselves and inform your future work, either in the studio or out in the open air.  So many times the point of the work is the essence of the thing, not the thing itself.

Travelling around Northeast Ohio last summer gave me an opportunity to do just that.  I did several quick paintings around Ashtabula County.  These quick studies bring to mind once again, the idea that every painting is essentially an abstraction.  The swift marks and quick strokes, are alone only smears of this color or that color.  More than that, they are the reaction, the response, the agreement, the witness of moment as it presents itself in real time.  It can also be the contradiction of prejudice, dispelling my idea of what was an assumed arrangement of shapes and colors.  For example, my idea of what it looks like may not be the way it actually is, and the example that I take note of, provides me that wisdom, of which I must be constantly reminded.

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