An artist walked through my warehouse studio during an open house fifteen years ago. I had landscapes hung in a small room, narrative figure paintings in the larger, better lit room. Steve pointed to the landscapes and said, “This is where you sell out.” He turned to the figure paintings and said, “This is where you’re telling the truth.” I replied, “I haven’t been able to sell more than a half dozen of the landscapes. Please tell me how I can become a sell-out.”
I’ve often divided my practice into different subject matter and styles. I painted landscapes to spend time with my fellow painter and friend, Brenda, and to find peace. The figurative paintings took a lot of physical and emotional energy out of me. Painting at a remote location, taking notes from nature, calmed and recharged me.
I haven’t headed out with my French folding easel and a blank canvas in a couple years. Painted the last completed landscape from a cool spot under my front yard magnolia in 2017. But I received an e-mail recently. A colleague recommended my landscapes to a city art director. A slot had opened in the schedule at the main house of Leu Gardens in Orlando. I agreed to deliver 30 framed paintings on November 21st.
I pulled paintings off a studio rack, gathered them from closets and corners in the house, and made selections. When I looked at the chosen group, I noticed that color harmony and softer light had become more dominant throughout the twenty year span of work. The early landscapes had more edges and tension. The latter pieces gave off a sense of peace.
Then I remembered another reason why I painted outdoors all those years. Sometimes, when annoyances, distractions and concerns about outcomes fell away, I felt like I had begun to become immersed in nature. I felt part of a bigger flow, a current in a broad stream.
And that was good.