I followed up with several hours of study and experimentation with mixing greens which I might talk about in another post, but I also thought deeply about my mental state and how very important that is to a successful painting. On this day along the Mokelumne River, I was not mentally prepared to paint. It had been a busy week in the office with several challenging situations arising that remained unresolved. I brought along my little dog Dixie Doodles for the first time. She was a good girl all day, but this was an experiment on my part, and it was distracting and new for me. I kept checking on her and worrying about shade and water. I was very aware of my previous struggles with "pure" and green landscapes. And finally, I compromised on what to paint, selecting a location that accomodated Dixie instead of one that I preferred for the subject matter. The outcome was predicable.
|The side of the Murphys Hotel, Murphys, California|
|Just enough room to avoid being run over!|
I knew as soon as I saw it that this was going to be my first painting of the trip. In the morning, I set up along the street next to the scene. I was fresh, excited and mentally focused on this subject. I was clear on what I wanted. I envisioned a bold painting with thick paint to capture the rustic, aging subject matter.
|The final result and a happy painter!|
In my opinion, the Murphys Hotel painting was my most successful effort of the trip.
So what were the lessons I learned by this comparison?
1. Focus. Painting isn't easy. It requires my FULL attention.
2. Know why I am painting a subject. What do I want to capture and record? Go for that and minimize everything else.
3. Have a plan of how I am going to approach the painting.
4. Have a vision of what the result will look like. This doesn't have to be a perfect vision. There should be lots of room for change and creativity, but I should still have a conceptual idea of the outcome.
5. Be enthusiastic about my subject matter AND my concept. If I'm not, it's going to be a struggle.
6. Don't rush the beginning. Take time to consider, study. Make a sketch or two. Get everything ready BEFORE starting. Have the right colors, brushes, medium.