Sunday, November 4, 2012

Painting the Familiar vs the Less Familiar

Island in the Bay-oil on canvas-24x36-to purchase contact Patina Art Gallery 251 928 2718

I think most artists welcome the stimulus of painting in an unfamiliar placeThis recent painting is of the coastal area where I live in the Florida Panhandle. The coastal environment was new to my eyes when I moved here in 2003. I've always been a mountain and woods kind of person and initially I didn't like the wide open flatness and eye searing light of my new home. But I've come to love the quiet beauty of the beaches and dunes. When I want to paint water, there are rivers, bayous, bays and the Gulf. The familiarity I've gained with my new home, finds it's way into the paintings of it.
I also love my second home on the central California Coast that I visit once or twice a year. In all my travels, I've never found a land that appeals to me as much as the area around Big Sur. But when I paint scenes of Big Sur and Cambria and Morro Bay, it's with the unaccustomed eyes of a visitor.

 Painting the less familiar gives you the child like freedom of painting without the prejudices of knowing what it's "supposed to" look like. Still, I admire the easy familiarity people like Frank Serrano or Jeff Horn and many other coastal painters of California, have with their subject. Frank Serrano captures perfectly the veil of  atmosphere that hangs almost constantly above the rocky cliffs. I'd love  to spend more time there studying the softly colored haze to better capture it. Jeff Horn sees his homeland in the same jeweled tones that excite my eye when I see the coast, and states his vision with appealing clarity. I hope in the not too distant future to spend some serious painting time there learning the feel of the land as comfortably as I have my Florida home. In the meantime, I'll continue painting where ever my feet land!

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