“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” Rumi
She has long flowing hair and a dark coat. She walks straight to my easel: “How could you paint the same thing for an entire year?” The answer is simple: Nothing really repeats itself. Working every day in the same place opens the possibility of nuances, variation, experimentation with the impact of different compositions and color schemes, the effect of allowing different elements to take central stage in the painting. There is no need to look for inspiration as there is always more to be done. There is only one restriction set by the limited number of hours in a day.
Some general rules about the Horsebarn Hill project are meant to keep the subject interesting, while offering recurring themes. Every month there is at least a sunrise, a sunset, a landscape with the moon, a nocturne, various interpretations of the Jacobson Barn, views of the farm, tree portraits, animals, a floral seen, people engaged in activities. The change in light along each day, the change of light with the weather and from season to season constantly sets the stage for new potential paintings. As the paint is pushed around the canvas, the imagination is fired. The final work is a blend of what is seen and how is seen
When the ideas get stale, a long walk opens new perspectives and new subjects. This is useful especially during the very cold days of winter, when I paint sitting in the car. From time to time, besides dealing with the freezing weather, I also have to deal with other vehicles that come to park right in front of me and obscure the view. When I was painting the tiny gas station by the main barn, a truck parked in front of it. The driver got out, and spent the next half an hour in conversation with a friend, before taking off again - and I finished my painting. Another time I started to paint an old sport car parked on Horsebarn Hill, when the owner returned suddenly and took off with my subject. As the sketch was still at the very beginning, I scraped the paint and looked for something else to paint. And then there was the early morning when a van parked inches from my car and completely blocked the view of the horses I was painting. Quickly, I put down my brushes, took a business card, and went to the driver to see if she would change parking places with me. “Oh, I have bought one of your paintings. It is in my living room.” She graciously moved her car and I finished my painting.
Like in many other endeavors, persistence pays off. Nothing works all the time, and any formula is interesting only for a short time. Taking a new approach, making rules and then breaking them keep the eye fresh and the painting challenging and interesting.
A Year of Plein Air on Horsebarn Hill