I followed a circuitous route to oil painting. Moving from a rainy childhood in the NW to Colorado Rockies then to Utah Wasatch and far flung travel in between exposed me to dramatic landscapes. As a hiker, skier and biker I always needed to be outdoors in any weather. But standing there behind an easel trying to convey this passion was quite another matter. My education and art career as a textile designer had not prepared me for this moment of truth. Where to start? It was as if I had never seen a simple tree before. The slogan is that you have to do 100 pieces before you can call yourself a painter. I wish. I have the advantage of the proximity of great master teachers here in Utah, which I wisely latched onto. Still. You have to find your own voice at the end of the day, maybe after 500 attempts. And counting. It’s a lot like becoming fluent in a foreign language. At a certain point it becomes intuitive and you feel free to express yourself. As I progress, I reconfirm my certainty that being face to face with your subject is the real experience, the true spirit of understanding it in all its nuance. Like many painters, I first do one or more small plein air (direct) studies to get the best angle on the view. I then take it back to the studio as the basis for a larger piece.
Of course, I take lots of photos as the light changes which I use as aids in composition but never as primary source material and certainly not for color information. That has to come from first-hand observation on site. I usually have several pieces going at once so I won’t get stuck on one and lose my first impulse. Hours pass like minutes with a paintbrush in my hand.