Well, at least painting my way through a very small part of this tear-jerkingly beautiful country. Driving is slow going when you take paintings instead of taking photographs. Slow but delicious.
Today is my last full day here, and I feel like I've been in a dream since I first arrived and camped in a windy lava field overlooking the ocean. The blues and greens of this landscape have somewhat eluded me, and the unexpected forms and compositions have coaxed me to let go of the horizon line that the Western United States has instilled in me. And the lupine. Lupine knows how to do it here, draping the hillsides in a heavenly lavender glow that offers a gentle contrast to the surrounding deeper reds, purples and greens.
|Lupine coated hillside up close|
The experience of looking at this painting after a few days of traveling and painting (some 25 tinyExpanses into the trip) changed the game for me. And in a bigger sense than just this trip. It clarified the question I've been pondering on the road as I often do when I travel and paint - what is this urge to capture landscape? When the real thing is so grandious and perfect in itself what is this urge to create an image of it?
|White Sky with Violet Lake - is that lupine or water?|
I remember a painting teacher (admittedly the same infamous one from the last blog) telling us that art is ethics. I always thought this was an overestimation of making art. But I am starting to agree. What we create is a reflection of our experience of the world, and that experience is created by how we process it. Every thought is a memory - we experience the world through our senses and then our brains process, or remember, and interpret, those sensations. The highest compliment in drawing class from this professor was "that is well-seen," (which is by the way an interesting echo of the story from which I found my last name -another story!). To live life seeing well - something to aspire to!
As I get ready to return to Boise, I am simultaneously nervous and excited to get back to the studio, to see how the prolonged process of integrating new visual landscapes into my work will proceed, wanting to hang on to the experiences I've had here as I return to something more familiar. As any traveler feels towards an end of the trip, painter or not. Will my observation of the Boise foothills be notably altered? Will the colors of this landscape seep into my vision of the Wood River Valley? I hope so...
And as for Samuel, a big thanks for allowing his work here to accompany me on my journey. Boise is lucky to have him seeing the landscape of Idaho through his eyes and offering it to us. I can't wait to see what comes of that process. Check out his work at www.samuelpaden.com.