Sunday, April 8, 2018

Selby Gardens, April

Selby Gardens, April, 8x10" oil, DMannion

Why Did I Paint This?
(Or… what the heck was I thinking!)

Arrived early for a day of painting at Selby Gardens, Sarasota. Many thanks to the Light Chasers Group for the opportunity.  Met my painting buddy at the gate, Heather Arenas who had never visited the gardens before!  It was a pleasure to share a first-timers excitement at this incredible horticultural world.

Loaded with backpacks and painting gear, we wandered around the trails and ended up at the gazebo.  There's something to paint everywhere you look!  I set up in the shade while Heather painted nearby.  
 Me under the gazebo
Heather nearby
I was struck by the light pattern in the scene right in front of me.  A quick thumbnail sketch, snapped an iPhone reference photo… and swung my brushes for a couple of hours.  Meanwhile, the light had changed completely.  Weather report warned of rain and wind picked up, so after lunch we packed it in, looking forward to going back and painting there often.
Why the heck did I pick this scene?
 I only saw the light pattern.  Had to simplify, so much to paint!  Forced me to think abstractly.  

I liked Heather's painting of a Buda statue a lot, and admired how she could focus surrounded by curious tourists.  What a champ!  

Meanwhile, I asked myself… why the heck did I pick this scene to paint?  I felt bogged down by details.  My first impression seemed lost.  Had to re-imagine the light pattern that inspired me in the first place.  So back in the studio, this little 8x10" painting was scraped and re-scraped and wrestled to the ground.  I was determined to have something to show for our Selby Gardens morning!
My plein air attempt, 8x10" oil … urgh! 

Thankful to have my original thumbnail sketch and the photo reference.  And I could visualize what first impressed me about the scene.  It's so easy to get lost on location.  
My secret scribble technique for thumbnails, bottom is Selby.  I do most of my thinking and planning in this little Moleshine sketchbook in a few minutes.  Sometimes it helps.

SELBY GARDENS, APRIL, 8x10" oil, DMannion
After the struggle, I like the painting… a little.  It's simply practice for the next one.  Lesson learned, again and again.

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