Today I wanted to paint something in acrylics. I didn’t have much time available, but felt that I’d like to experiment a little. I usually (almost always) draw and paint from a reference or actual ‘thing’ in front of me. The downside is that this can mean that I follow that scene or image too slavishly, sometimes to the detriment of composition. I thought it would be a good exercise to try to conjure a scene from my memory, using just my impressions of that scene for reference. The aim was to produce something that felt as ‘real’ as possible, testing my memory store of observation and learning from previous sketches.
I found this exercise such a challenge – so much harder than painting something that’s actually ‘there’. The composition wasn’t very clear in my head, and I was eager to paint rather than to sketch my picture first. This has meant that the resulting painting doesn’t have a clear focus, other than the channel between two of the mountains. I’m happy that the eye is led in, but once in, it sadly has nowhere much to go. The grass in the foreground was an afterthought, and it doesn’t add any value; in fact cropping the picture to exclude it does helps the picture somewhat.
What did I learn? Well, randomness in mountain shapes is harder to achieve convincingly than you might imagine. Ditto for clouds – time looking hard at them in future will be time well spent. Imagining how the light will fall, and what kind of light it should be, is key, and this should be established at the beginning, not halfway through. I should have spent more time on working out my composition, perhaps including the suggestion of a village or a few distant buildings for a bit more interest. In summary, I think this picture should be filed under ‘Learning Process.’ It’s becoming quite a big section!