When you find a scene that really inspires you, sometimes it's fun to try it several times, in different sizes and media. Lately I've been wanting to focus on developing my acrylic painting skills, especially larger format canvases, so I recently completed a painting based on a photo I took in Massachusetts early last fall. My daughter, granddaughter and I took a trip to the Clark Institute in Massachusetts to view a fabulous exhibition (Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness and the Art of Painting Softly), showcasing tonalist painters of the late 19th c.. The exhibition was wonderful and inspired me greatly--well worth the long trip there. The following morning, we were driving down the long steep driveway from the B & B where we'd spent the night, and I suddenly spotted a shaft of sunlight illuminating a large tree that was just turning golden yellow, in the midst of other foliage that was still primarily green. Of course I had to slam on the brakes (causing consternation to my passengers!) and get a few photos. I mulled over that image all the way home, and found time to interpret it in acrylic just before the end of the year. Here it is; the original (30" x 24") is now at Davis Canadian Arts in Stratford Ontario (see the Sales tab for contact info).
This past month, I was teaching a weekend pastel class in Port Perry (see Workshops tab for some photos--the students did awesome work!), and decided to do a small pastel--I sometimes work at a small painting in order to give the students some breathing space, especially if it's a small class--otherwise they may feel just a bit TOO closely monitored and get tense. The tree photo was in the pile of photos I bring along for students to use for practice, and I was inspired anew. I got a good start on the piece that afternoon, and did a little tweaking back in the studio. Here it is--a small (9" x 6") but mighty work!
So, which do I prefer? Hmmm--I think they each have merit, but a completely different "feel." Obviously the larger work is more detailed and more "realistic" as a result, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. However, the small pastel captures the evanescent moment perhaps better, and has a softer, more dynamic feel. It was interesting to try to capture essentially the same scene in a much smaller format, with a different medium. Coincidentally, today's twice-weekly e-letter from artist Robert Genn speaks to exactly this process of evolving a work in different sizes and media. If you aren't familiar with Genn's newsletter, check it out here: http://painterskeys.com/. It's a terrific inspiration that arrives in your email twice a week, and it does NOT lead to unsolicited spam messages.
This smaller painting will be in the Pastel Artists Canada (PAC) members' show in late May-mid June at Todmorden Mills in the Don Valley east of Toronto. For more information on the show, visit www.pastelartists.ca.