Whenever we enter the studio we face challenges. In my own work, these revolve around the technical aspects of balance in the texture, brushwork, edges and color. That was part of the story behind Garden in the Morning. It was a painting I had been inspired to do on several occasions, and with each attempt became more convinced that it might be beyond my ability, certainly my ability to pull it off at the technical level required. But the inspiration kept returning and I have learned that when an idea becomes that insistent, perhaps it is my own fears that are getting in the way.
I began by studying the technique in the work of artists I admired, their brushwork, and the way they approached the design, trying to find some way to put it together. I reread sections of Richard Schmid's Alla Prima and suddenly understood clearly what he meant when he said, "Do not ask yourself, 'What do I see?' Rather ask, 'What do I see?" And what I saw was the beautiful yellow light as it moved upward over the form and disolved into the green of the leaves, as well as the warm S curve that weaves behind the statue and through the garden, then upward into the distant trees.
As the painting progressed, I figured out how less is more in depecting the gesture of the statue and letting the light provide the few important details. Whenever I started to get "lost" I went back to the underlying design to regrasp the composition. This idea of the S curve behind the central figure came as an insight after studying John Singer Sargent. While I greatly admire his brushwork, more important to me is the way he builds his compositions entirely on the underlying abstract design.
We should never shy away from the challenges that are presented even if our first few attempts are wiped off. I have discovered more valuable information by what doesn't work than through the paintings that flow easily. More often than not what seems so easy is only easy because it is repetitive and doesn't move my artistic aspirations forward.