Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art Every Day: O is for Observation (and maybe Obsession)

Day 15

Today's picture is a digital image, a photograph of the sky viewed from the top of the hill in the park on the mushroom expedition. What grabbed my attention was the group of stripes in the middle of the clouds.

I have always been highly visual. I learn best by watching, I notice tiny details all around me, and most of all, I am aware of color. The advent of a digital camera in my life offered incredible opportunities for observation and focus. I especially enjoy the ability to see things from a macro perspective (see my flower pictures on this blog.) The process of viewing the world through the digital lens has clearly increased my powers of observation.

Then I started to paint from my photographs. My early efforts were most successful when I painted the lights and the darks that I saw. I spent hours searching my Picasa files finding images that would work to allow me to use the new skills I was developing. Seascapes, sunsets, images with strong contrast worked the best.

This new way of seeing, and my quest for images to paint became apparent in the photos I took. And my photos were definitely better. But there was more change coming. Soon, when I looked at an object or a scene, I began to think about how I could paint it. I observed carefully, running questions through my mind. Where were the lights? What were the colors in the shadows? What shapes, what lines did I see? I had the odd experience of walking into familiar places and seeing them in new ways - with an eye toward recreating them on my page.

Which brings me back to today's image. The sky over the park was huge - but the light was only in the sky, the earth was dark. I wanted to highlight the stripes of clouds I find so beautiful. I used my digital tools to open the foreground, illuminate the sky and make the colors as vibrant here as they are in my imagination.