Intertwined Fingers

Like intertwined fingers, where my one style of painting starts and the other ends is hard to tell. Plein air watercolors and studio work are meshed in my mind and their combination creates emotional landscapes. 


Watercolors in my journals are en plein air. At their essence, they are a record of time and place. However, they are also a study of structure, and a record of emotion.

En plein air, I am sitting right smack in the landscape, with bugs, rain, and sun. I'm hearing birds and slapping mosquitoes as I contemplate how best to convey surrounding beauty. I am recording the time and place: Where I am, what I'm seeing, what day it is, what is going on around me.


However, the journals are also valuable as a learning tool in studying structure. Below is a journal entry and study of Mt. Hood. In it, I studied how glacier forms joined rock and tree forms and concentrated on connecting them into a pleasing jumble of shapes.

That same day, I took a closer look at nearby pine trees, noting shapes of their branches, trunks, holes through to the snow, and how they fit into the snowbank. But I also I focused on capturing joy. You can FEEL joy by use of bright colors and splashy strokes.

In this, the process of painting en plein air becomes a type of muscle memory and transforms into a basic understanding of structure, mass, and capturing feeling.


A studio painting becomes a reaction to those journal entries.


And an understanding of structural landscape elements comes through.

Those emotions and interconnecting landscape shapes drawn from painting en plein air arrive in studio works, surfacing somehow in the midst of the action of painting strokes and choosing colors.

While journal painting is for me, my memories and my learning, mixed media paintings are a permanent statement of beauty, color, and emotion; a large artwork to hang on a wall and be viewed at a distance. Studio paintings stand up to environmental challenges and do not fade, wrinkle, reflect, or become yellow, like my journals eventually will. In other words, a saleable object for all to enjoy.

In combining two techniques of painting, I'm able to capture emotion, energy, and structural form in my studio paintings, translated from a simple plein air watercolor, and lending an authentic voice to my complex contemporary landscapes.

Thanks for reading, my friends. Stay safe and healthy and keep joy in your lives.