In an effort to get out of my writing chair, I recently began taking an impressionist painting course with local artist, Mark Hierholzer. Each week I have joined two friends, and I have stood before a canvas, trying to paint light. Not color. Not scenes. Not objects. Light.
The approach for this type of impressionist painting goes something like this: (see the images below)
Step one: look for light in terms of shapes. When you squint, where are the tones or shadows melding together? Paint those–just four to six shapes total.
Step two: now where is the next layer of light? Or the next division of light and shadow? The sides of the shrubs? In the grass or trees? Paint that.
Step three: (which also might happen four or five more times), add detail lighting. The blue path, the foreground trees. Always searching for what the light is doing. Where it is. Where it isn’t.
While my painting skills have a long way to go, I put the emphasis on the word light, because after each three hour class, what I end up feeling is light. All my hours of sitting and writing and worry slide away. We listen to classical music. Drink wine or coffee. Laugh. And we focus on the light. In life, I think I will choose to make this my focus, too. And so, painting leaves a great impression.
(Sorry, could not resist the pun. Nor could I resist the subject of my first landscape painting. These are the necessaries–outhouses–at the Wythe House in Williamsburg.)