Artists see life differently.
I recently traveled to Colorado to visit my folks and take a mini-vacation. I grew up in Colorado and LOVE, LOVE, Love it.. I still consider it my home. We drove several times into the mountains to see fall colors. I think I took around 500 reference photos…just of trees, mountains, and landscape. Crazy, huh?
On one drive, we drove from Montrose towards Telluride to see broad views of the San Juan Mountain Range, along with several (or what seemed like thousands) of people pulling off the road and taking pictures of magnificent peaks. As we pulled out of a forest access road, facing the opposite (read: boring) direction from the mountains, I stopped our Subaru and hopped out, taking photos of a ridge across the road. My parents didn’t see anything amazing in the general direction of my camera focus. But I popped back inside, all excited, proclaiming, “THAT will become a painting!”.
Here is the “inspiring” ridge photo that so sparked my interest:
Now, MOST people look at that picture and think, “meh…”. Am I right? Do you see the potential? When I showed the picture to my husband, he could not believe I would be inspired by such a bland scene.
I, on the other hand, could not wait to get into the studio and begin the process of translating it into beauty I saw in my eyes and imagination. This, I think, is the magic of being an artist; the ability to translate and re-interpret daily scenes from life. We can explain it through a title or inject it with colors; perhaps with a feeling of emptiness in space around the focal point, or nostalgia with color choices, maybe impact with composition and value. In fact, I could take this picture and pull completely different emotions from my viewers with several different paintings.
Seeing a lone tree, a bottle, a slice of fruit, or a mundane landscape can provide an artist with an opportunity to speak about issues we all face in our lives and our world. Artists see life differently and give us a chance to join in that view.
That ridgeline? NOT boring. Instead, beautiful and metaphorical. Here is how I interpreted that very mundane ridge in Colorado:
Texture, ridgeline placement, empty space, color, and a sense of being on the edge introduce a thought of past and future with this painting. I am at a turning point in my life right now. I’m in the space between raising my children (one left…a senior in high school) and choosing my next step. Metaphorically, I’m looking at the ridgeline as a point of view, a destination to see the goal. Once I get up there, I can view past and future paths from the same point. I must work towards that ridge, though, and getting there might be rough, as you can see the landscape is tangled with roots, sand, and textural challenges.
Like I said…Artists see life differently. Would you be inspired by the photo of the junipers on the cliff? What type of connection would you have drawn between that photo and your life? Have you taken photos that you find meaning in, not necessarily just in the subject matter?
To see this painting, go to Hood Avenue Art in Sisters, Oregon later this week, where I will be featured artist during the rest of October and most of November. Make sure to come by the gallery and see me and visit about the new landscape work. I’ll be there Fourth Friday, this Friday, October 28th from 4-8pm.
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Cheers, people! And Feed the Beast!