Thursday, July 17, 2008
My wife and I had dinner at a swanky yacht club recently with some parishioners, and there was a gorgeous painting by A.E. Backus in the dining room. Backus is a legend on the Treasure Coast of Florida, and is credited with teaching the original artists of the "Highwayman" school of painters - a group that I refer to as "Florida's version of the Hudson River School". The beautiful painting - which I didn't get a picture of - made me lament not painting landscapes myself. I started off doing landscape, and used to do it exclusively (in the Bob Ross style), but once I began my formal art education I switched to other subject matter. But there is something infinitely satisfying and appealing about landscape art. The natural world speaks to all people. One of the few such paintings I have done recently is pictured.
Landscape is actually much harder for me to do than other subjects - I think because it is already very abstract. It's easier for me to take a very ordered scene and abstract it. But to work from something that is already abstract and organic is very difficult. Then there is associated factor of capturing light, special details, and so on, which is best done plein air, but which I hate doing because of bugs, wind, people, etc. Yet still, as we get ready to move away from Florida (my home state - fourth generation... born in Coral Gables), I feel bad that I have not tried to paint any Florida scenes while living down here for two years.
One of the hard things about being an artist is trying to decide what to paint. Once you learn to paint, you can pretty much paint anything you wish, so the real difficulty becomes focusing in on something and sticking with it for a while. I get so worked up doing paintings of a particular subject matter (cityscapes, religious works, etc.) that it feels awkward at times trying to break out of that mold to do something new. So that becomes its own obstacle which is simply added to any technical difficulties surrounded with trying new subject matter.