|11-26-2014, 3.5" x 5.5" Moleskine sketchpad|
I can't quite recall why she shared this photo with me, but I cropped it considerably to focus on the grove of trees behind our apartment building. That grove isn't going to last long. Construction has begun on more apartment buildings. At the center of the complex is a small lake around which the buildings circle, called Deer Lake. It seems a shame to remove all the trees. The deer will miss those trees, but there are plenty more nearby. I'm the one who's really going to miss them. I like seeing the deer grazing nearby. How sad that the natural is giving way to the manmade. I guess it's the way of the world--but that's sad, too. We'll have to rename it "No Deer Lake" soon.
I enjoy the layers of value I can see here. At home in New Mexico, it's so dry the view is crisp and hard-edged all the way to the horizon. Atmosphere adds...well, atmosphere to the piece. The values recede quickly, the edges soften, detail is lost, in fact, things in the far distance simply disappear. I like seeing and drawing that.
I recall years ago in Albuquerque a traveling artist held a plein air workshop at the foot of the scenic 10,000 foot Sandia Mountains. Hailing from the northeastern parts of the US, he taught what he knew about painting receding planes: softened edges, less detail, lighter values. One of the students, a friend of mine, grew frustrated. Pointing to the top of the mountain as he stood at her easel, she asked, "Can't you see the trees on the top? I can." Apparently he looked up, gazing there for a few long moments, and conceded that he could see them.
It was an object lesson on painting under different atmospheric conditions, not to mention a cautionary tale for those artists who travel to teach workshops in various parts of the world: Paint what you see, not what you know!