While most of the rest of the country was in the grip of a deep blast of Arctic sub-zero temperatures, my backyard here in Wintergardens, Lakeside–a borough of San Diego County, in California, USA, was sunny, bright and a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To protect myself from the Winter sun, I put on my wide-brimmed cowboy hat, walked out the back door with my easel and paint supplies in tow, intending to paint a nice composition, featuring the Meyer lemons that are now fully ripe on the little tree along the Western fence between ours’ and the neighbor’s lot. I already had the antique, gilded gesso frame, which is very ornate and figured a botanical theme would not stylistically clash with it. I’m happy with the result. I hope you like it.
Many times, while painting a canvas outdoors, for any of a limitless number of reasons there are parts of the scene that are either too complex, distasteful, or simply don’t mesh and balance the composition. It is the artist’s prerogative to include or exclude these items as necessary to meet the end goal of a harmonious and balanced painting. Known as “Artistic License,” this is the artists ability and authority to change the subject to fit the overall goals of the particular presentation according to their own aesthetic whim. That explains how one departs, creatively speaking, from the scene before him which has dreadful apartment dwelling architecture from the early seventies…
to a simplified and idyllic scene as shown in progress here on the easel…
to a place such as the one depicted here…
Thank goodness I don’t feel like I need to paint what I see!
Here is a video demonstration of the actual painting of this piece, on site at Lindo Lake…that’s my wife’s playing the piano in the music background–she also composed the music and arranged the recording.
P.S. Don’t be afraid to use the “like” buttons on the page. They help with getting the word out about the great painter you know 🙂
Did you know that Lindo Lake is the only natural (un-dammed) fresh water, spring-fed lake in San Diego County? Currently it is “topped up” by pumping in water from nearby wells, which keeps the park nice and green and the lake full and beautiful. I remember going to the park for a picnic with family, cousins and friends in the Summer of ’71 when I was nine years old. The lake was completely dry, which was very disappointing for a nine-year-old. But it wasn’t too long before my cousin Curt (2 years older) and I found a way to have fun anyway. In those days, there was no Nintendo, Gameboy or “Angry Birds” to insidiously suck the life out of two daring young explorers who were experts at finding alternate sources of adventure and mischief. Turns out, a foot or two under the cracked mud surface of the lake bottom, there were hibernating…or I guess the correct term is estivating…arroyo toads that were enjoying the cool and moist mud down below. With sticks for improvised shovels, we dug and dug, finding several of them.
Of course, we brought the largest specimens back to the picnic area to proudly show to our Moms, who were duly unimpressed and in fact, quite the opposite. Our shoes and clothing were now encrusted with the stinky, black, goose-slime-laden, lake-bottom mud! In retrospect, I have to say that as nine and eleven-year old boys, finding those toads was more than worth the trouble we were in. I think as mad as they were about our soiled clothes, our mothers probably secretly enjoyed our boyishness and loved us all the more for it.
On Saturday, I returned to Lindo Lake with the San Diego Plein Air Painters Group and started a painting. This is a large (for plein air) 16 X 20 oil on canvas. The painting is not complete and is a work in progress. I think I’ll let this one rest and return to it later for finishing with “fresh eyes.” Sometimes it is good to leave a painting for a spell and pick it back up when it suits your fancy. I welcome any comments on this one, critical or otherwise.
Here it is as it sits on the easel, now: