Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Capturing the Essence of Park City in Paint

Over there!
Look at that sunset!
Quick ... Take a picture before the light changes!
You snap away and get the picture.
Then, the light does change and the moment is gone.

Now you look at your pictures and see that the photos you took captured the moment, but it doesn't look anything close to what you saw. Why is there a gap? Why the difference between what you saw and what your camera saw?

The answer is technical, but the main issue is perception and technology. To put it in simple terms, you and I see things in multiple layers of data, whereas your camera's perceptive capability is typically quite limited. It is programmed in a series of abilities and compromise; what it gains in the gathering of light, it loses in the values or properties of that light.

Plus, the image experience you have of a particular scene is a 3 dimensional experience including additional sensory values that are added in. You will see colors in more richer tones. You will hear and feel the environment, as well. There's a lot going on with your personal experience of the moment that can never be captured mechanically. (At least not yet!) If you are experiencing a stand of trees, you see way past the borders of a painting or photograph. You hear the affect of wind in the branches, you smell the forest, feel the coolness of the shade the trees cast, and so much more.

So, what is it that draws us to art? This answer is a bit simplistic, but I think it is accurate: art tries to give an interpretation of the original experience. It can never replicate the original experience, but the process does provide a chance to deliver a new experience. That's my objective when I paint. I don't usually attempt to match the subject color for color, contrast for contrast, etc. I try to create a captured essence of the scene. I do this with brush strokes that are unique to me ... sort of like my fingerprint is unique to me. I do that with colors enhanced and colors omitted. The same holds true with detail that I emphasize and other data that doesn't get rendered. That is the nature of art, really. It is human perception and human imperfection. That is the reason art can be beautiful on its own merit.

The bigger context, of course, is the reason that certain expressions of art can be quite appealing. It is about your experience with the subject matter and with the unique representation of it that you find appealing, as well. It can be your appreciation for the expression, the subject matter, or other attributes. The bottom line is that the work speaks to you and that's that.

Park City and its neighboring areas are packed with subject matter to paint. Places, people, and things are all around you at any given time. Never mind the fact that the lighting, the temperature, and the weather all combine to make each possible image completely different!

Park City has personality that really speaks to me. Because I care about it, I find that it is a joy to set up an easel and render it. The process is fun because the essence of Park City is already something I connect with.

I have to love the subject matter, the composition, the color scheme, and the setting before I start painting. I have learned through experience that there are subjects I don't connect with and painting those subjects become work to me and I don't care for it. In that instance, I'd much rather be doing pretty much anything else. I find it hard to fake it. When I don't care for the subject, I end up not caring too much about the painting.

The appreciation for the subject carries on through to the end of the process. I know that the time when a painting is finished is when I fall in love with it. Seriously. It seats down in my mind as a finished piece and doesn't cry out for more of this or less of that. It's done. I relax, admire it for about two minutes, and then sign it and prepare the next composition.

My hope is that you connect to my work ... that it speaks to you on multiple levels. This connection makes art more than the inadequate attempt to replicate nature. It should be an experience that is so much more. It can become, in a way, an extension of who you are. That's what makes art so fascinating. You, as the consumer of art, are participating in it. You want to share it with others just as you want to share a discovery of a new park you've found, a menu item at a restaurant, or a song you've discovered. You are telling your close circle of friends that the thing you've experienced ... that is embodied in a painting ... is a part of the essence of who you are.

That's heavy.
And I believe it to be true.

I am compelled to create paintings as an extension of who I am.
You are compelled to acquire art as an extension of who you are.
The connection between the two is powerful energy.
I stake my career on it.

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