Do you hear me doing my little happy dance? The Egret canvases are done. At least they are signed and sitting in my studio and I feel in my heart that they are complete. This project was hard for me. I think part of it was the fact that I was making it all up as I went. I had nothing to look at to see what it would really look like so I just painted what I thought it should look like…LOL
Images are burned into my brain from years of research and studying and loving nature and I’ve retained the essence of people, animals and places seen in person, through coffee table books, photographs and movies. Somehow as I work with paint the sense of place manages to emerge through my artwork.
The first time I became aware of this was when I painted furniture for another business. I had just finished painting a chest with a beach scene of sea grass, palm trees and footprints in the sand when my boss walked up and said, “How do you do that? I want to live there!” The next time was when I owned my own gallery and was teaching classes. One of my students who had been on safari many times said to me “You’ve been to Africa. You’ve captured the essence of the animals and the country.” I felt very flattered and hated to admit that, no I had never been to Africa. I actually painted how I felt Africa would be.
Often as I paint I think of how it feels and smells to be there. In the jungle, I think of the wetness on the leaves and the gnats flying around for the frogs to eat. How the earthy dampness fills your nostrils and how you can breathe deeply…real uncontaminated oxygen. In the African savannah, I imagine how the merciless sun bakes the earth and how the crisp dry grasses smell. I think of standing next to the mud hole where the animals gather to drink, the mud sucking the shoes off your feet and the aromas and sounds of the animals filling your senses.
As I wrote in my last blog…”Life is in the Details.” That’s what my art is all about. Seeing, feeling, hearing and smelling the details of my subject’s life and transferring the essence of their existence through paint for others to enjoy.