I’ve learned so much over the past 4 days it’s hard to get my head around it all. I feel so lucky to be down here painting in this fantastic place. I can see why so many painters move here for good. Yesterday I had the great good fortune of starting of the day in a sour mood, probably brought on by the completely overcast sky- not what I was hoping for. It was 11am before I gathered the willpower to pack up my paints and cycle 5km along the riverside in the hope of finding a scene which would inspire me out of my gray funk.
Nothing presented itself. Finally I stopped cycling and sat on the pebbly beach in despair. The gray weather persisted but after a few minutes brooding the autumnal trees along the shore caught my eye as a possible subject. Even in the gray light the golden leaves looked cheery by comparison. After another 10 minutes of scouting around the scene I set up shop and got to work.
I had begun to talk myself around, feeling that I could perhaps manipulate the lighting in the painting to my advantage. Soon I had the canvas covered and was painting in earnest, painting on the fly, painting with gusto, with passion, with guts - I even started singing. As the painting evolved I made faster and bolder decisions, feeling more like a real artist than the copiest I had been the previous two sessions. I decided where I wanted the light and just put it there. The gray clouds still did not budge, so I took the colors I needed from nature and figured out the others when required.
After 3 hours I was finished and happy and as I signed it the almighty Sun decided to make an appearance. It sliced through the clouds and poured onto the beach in front of me - revealing the very same lighting I had just been inventing in my painting - finally! It was as if God was validating all the day’s struggle in a single sun-kissed moment. You know what I love about believing in God? Being able to say thank You.
So that was yesterday. Today was even better. The sun shone all day with barely a cloud in the sky. I drove around Lake Wanaka to return to Saturday’s unfinished painting, set up quickly and had it finished within the hour. Moderately happy with the outcome I packed up and paid a visit to Christy and Ken in the Art-Up-Stairs Gallery where I’ll be holding the workshop this weekend.
After a relaxing hour and a half of coffee and home made muffins I took to the road again in search of the next likely scene. I found it within a few minutes whilst passing over a bridge. I was setup within minutes and painting furiously, determined to make a passionate painting to shame the morning’s stilted attempt.
It all came together. This time I decided to use the scene as inspiration and not be shackled by it. I painted the scene how I wanted it to look rather than exactly how I saw it. Part of me expected a bad decision to ruin the whole thing at any moment but my brush seemed to know what it was doing so I let it paint for me and tried not to interrupt
After only one hour and twenty minutes I had signed it and was in the truck riding a high all the way home. Don’t get me wrong - I know these aren’t the greatest paintings in the world, but they feel good to me, and that’s enough to make this painter happy.
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