Plein air painting is something I do, trekking outside once a week to paint the region and to see colors and values in nature. However, It’s gotten so that plein air, while I need the constant discipline, is just not enough. These are fast breezy paintings I can do in under an hour. I needed more challenge.
Listening to the Artist Voice
So, I’ve been letting my inner artist voice take over, and it’s telling me to look for unusual angles and abstract ideas. My wonderful Upper Window painting was born this way. This is a garden I’ve walked past 1000 times in my home town of St. Augustine, Florida. One day I was passing, and the shadows stopped me. Now this was a challenge.
That morning, I did a tiny plein air study of the shadows and the roofline. It was exciting. Different.
Back at the studio, I developed a larger version. The complex stepped roof threw me. Every brick and every step were different sizes and angles. I went back to take better reference photos and used a ruler to measure fractions of an inch.
I stood there to study it more, and something else popped up – those shadows – the photos thought they were all the same gray, but the photos lied. My tiny plein air painting study showed cooler blue shadows on the front wall and warmer shadows at the back.
Cracking the Puzzle
Finally, after many weeks, I’d cracked the puzzle of the painting. Upper Window took me through a great journey of transformation. I learned that while I could belt out so-so quick paintings in no time, what I needed was to go further. I can still use these fast paintings as studies, and are valuable to capture colors better than photos. But I’m finding the real work is back in my studio, spending time attacking the puzzle of a larger, more challenging finished painting.
“Upper Window” won major awards in two different international art shows: Honorable Mention in The Richeson75 Landscape, Seascape & Architecture 2018, and an Award of Excellence in the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS) 2018 Online International Exhibit. It will be published in the Richeson75 book and was featured in American Art Collector Magazine. What an honor.
— Mary Hubley