Rock Star, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 5x7
One of the questions I’m most often asked is “did you paint this outside, or in the studio?” My answer more often now than in the past is that I painted inside. Years of time were spent painting outside a couple of times a week. I still visit the Everglades every chance I get, and usually take a number of photos to work from.
These photos are not carefully composed to ensure I get every detail, but casually taken to remind me of what I saw. It could be the way the light hit a particular feature of the landscape or perhaps the way a palm frond thrusts up into the sky. In any case, a glace will transport me back to the time and place and I’m ready to begin.
You can’t learn to paint landscapes inside. I harp on this theme often, since I teach a landscape class inside. You must get outside in order to see the relationships of time, space and color for yourself. All of the lessons I give inside can prime you, and help you, but you must study the natural world from observation to learn to paint the landscape well.
When I’m outside, my paintings are more responsive and immediate as I react to the reality of the wind, sun, light, and foliage. More choices are in my face, and I must work quickly and loosely to capture the scene.
As a more mature artist, I find that studio time allows me to be more reflective and thoughtful. My paintings delve deeper into the well of knowledge I’m still acquiring. I can make and change choices of features, color, light and time of day.
Is one better than the other? I don’t think so. I’ve come to believe that working both inside and outside helps me to see better, think better, and develop more deeply as an artist.