Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Lavender Patch by the Barn" (oil on linen; 9" x 12")

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The scene that inspired the painting

"Lavender Patch by the Barn" was one of the paintings done during the workshop with Bobbi Pratte at Willow Pond Farm in Fairfield, PA in June.  I painted the lovely scene in the shade of a big tree. As the painting progressed, the sun moved, enveloping the purple lavenders in the back in shadow and highlighting those in front. Perfect!

The teacher and several of the workshop participants loved the painting very much, so I figured it must be good and I should like it too.  But deep inside, something bothered me.  I will tell you all about my doubts and how I worked things out of system. 

Bobbi was thrilled to see me working so hard while everybody was taking a well-earned break after lunch on the first day of the workshop.  She was particularly happy with my choice of the painting subject.  She would have painted it herself if she had not been so busy taking care of students.  She gave me several good suggestions, one of which was "don't paint the white wall of the barn too high-keyed" because it would come forward.  She told me to paint it grayed blue.  So did I dutifully. 

But that dingy blue wall in the back kept nagging me ever since.  To me, it was a depressing color in a happy, sunny painting.  It just didn't belong there.  The white wall, although in shadow, had a lot of light bounced back from everywhere.  Thus, while keeping the value low enough, I brought light back to the wall.  The painting finally began to sing.  I made a slew of adjustments, but the most important change was the afore-mentioned barn wall.

The whole business made me wonder.  What is the right thing?  Do I always act upon what the teacher says?  Or do I trust my own judgment and do my own thing?  For last two months, I have been taking a break from classes, workshops, and even paint-outs with friends.  In other words, I have been doing "my own thing," figuring things out on my own, and allowing my own voice to sing my own song.  I see big changes in my work and I like my new style.  I will go back to the classroom in the fall, but I don't think I will always follow the teacher's advice.  I will continue to do my own thing.

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