Friday, January 8, 2016

"tough love" ...Day 8

Part of the joy of plein air is the finding beauty in unexpected places.  Often we think that a painting has to be about a breathtaking sunset or a gorgeous mountain vista.  But there are millions of paintings all around you just waiting to be noticed.  Sometimes the lighting is what catches my eye or the shapes may have a great abstract design.  And sometimes its about the juxtaposition of the elements in a space and the narrative that runs through my mind when I study them.  We all have triggers.  One of mine is a good story.  I just love a painting that captures my imagination.

First a story:  The winter holidays for me means all of my kids are home.  Two are college kids now that are home on break and one is a high schooler.  Each one is spreading their wings at a different pace and in totally different ways.  We don't all live together anymore but yet they aren't guests either. Rules have changed and some have ceased to even apply anymore.  The break went smoother than I expected but even so there were times when we hit some rough spots. And there were some times where I felt I was walking on eggshells or didn't quite know how to handle or whether to even try to handle some issues.  When do I offer help and when do I stay quiet and let my kids handle things, even when I see them making mistakes and floundering.  This is all new territory for me as a mom.  And what does all of this have to do with painting?

I've noticed a trend in painting outdoors this last week.  Bridges keep appearing and water too.  Even if I haven't used them as an element in my painting, they are in my field of view when I'm on location.  Seems like a sign somehow, or maybe a metaphor for my life right now.  I'm not sure which side of the bridge I'm on or if I'm crossing the bridge. Or could it be that I'm the bridge ...you know that song "bridge over troubled water"?!  Maybe am I under the bridge?!  I'm not sure what's going on.  But it's making me think I need to pay attention.

And all of this rambling is a long explanation leading you to today's painting.  The light hitting the underside of the bridge first attracted my attention.  And with all bridges, there was graffiti on it.  A blank canvas that someone had used to spray paint the word "love".  Nothing else.  I wondered if they were in the middle of a spray paint declaration and got interrupted or if that was just what they wanted to say.  Then I spotted this little cedar growing on the steep, rocky slope against the bridge's concrete piling.  Optimism and perseverance in tree form.  It's roots are in sparse rocky soil and it's top branches are already within a foot of the underside of the bridge.  It looks healthy and happy right now but soon it's space will be too confining.   All of these elements were just too perfect.  So many different ways to interpret it all ....both in meaning and in paint.

I titled my blog "capturing life in paint" because after some soul searching I discovered that is why I paint.   Sometimes I go looking for subjects to capture in paint and sometimes the subjects capture me.  I love this job.

"tough love"
7" x 5" oil on panel
©2016dottietleatherwood

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I will be teaching a plein air workshop in Edisto Island, SC in March.  If one of your New Year's resolutions is to learn to paint plein air or just paint better, come join me!  We will paint, learn, laugh and have fun.  Click Here for more information! Edisto Island Plein Air Workshop


1 comment:

Jerry Stocks said...

Great painting, and I loved your take on bridges. My grandson attends a charter called "Bridges". It surely is a great name for lots of thoughts and feelings.