Sunday, January 4, 2009

Where I Stand- Near and Far

Late Afternoon at the Pond
8 x8 oil
Available at Deborah Paris Fine Art

There's an old bit of advice- attributed to Corot- that most landscape painters have heard: start your landscape about 50 feet in front of where you stand. Another version says your visual starting point should be about the distance you can throw your hat. Its also useful to remember that the horizon will always be about your eye level, and will rise and fall depending upon whether you are standing on a hill or down in a hollow. And then there is the question, the most compelling to me, of whether to show the viewer an intimate corner of nature or a grand view. In every case, the artist is the yardstick, the measuring tool. And so the choices we make become a sort of mini manifesto of our art. We say to the viewer: "Stand here and look there. This is how I see it."

Early on, I was seduced by the big view. In Florida,where I was born, raised and lived until about 7 years ago, I was always looking for places where things opened up- where I could see long distances. So, I tended to paint marshes and salt water flats or the open pasture land of the ranches near my studio. Then, I went in search of bigger views out West- I could look out at endless mesas and mountains from my studio in New Mexico and I regularly traveled to Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming to paint the vastness of the American West. I went to California and painted the spectacular views of Big Sur. But, all during those years I would often find myself painting a stand of aspens on a hillside instead of the mountain vista, a high country pond instead of the dramatic waterfall or moonlight on a tidal pool instead of the huge bluffs or cliffs above. Truthfully, those were my better paintings.

I don't think one is better than the other- near or far. I think it depends completely on who the artist is- who is the yardstick, the measuring tool. But in my case, I have come to know that my passion is for the more intimate view. It is there- at the edge of a field or the corner of a pond- that I am most able to show what I see in this world. And so, that is where I stand.


Bill Brauker said...

Oh how nice it would be to stand next to the pond in the late afternoon. Living in Colorado, I know exactly what you are talking about, but thanks to you, I have decided to spend more time focusing in on the things closer to me. Thanks for that.

Robin Pedrero said...

As I have shared before you know I am quite fond of your work. Also, I like how you think which I am sure attributes to my fondness for your work. As a colleague in the aspect of landscape creations I too enjoy a big piece of the sky. I have felt myself changing and you have reminded me to stay aware of where I find myself and what attracts me. Lovely work!

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful, Deborah. Since I'm not a landscape painter really, I can't say what habit of seeing I might develop if painting outdoors. But my guess is it would be the things that remind me of just sitting in a quiet place by the water, just like this one does.

Anonymous said...

I think another variable, as to what view is best, is who the viewer is.

Another lovely piece, Deborah.

Anonymous said...

I think another variable to consider, in which view is best, is who the viewer is.

This is another lovely piece, Deborah.

Casey Klahn said...

Mostly, I appreciate your personal ideals regarding this. It makes your art, including this lovely one, come alive.

I have my own views on the horizon, etc. But, what a wonderful lesson on throwing one's hat! That will stick with me.

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Bill. I know its hard to ignore those mountains! Thanks very much for stopping by!

Hi Robin- thanks so much for your kind words.

Hi Martha- that really is a great way to put it a"habit of seeing". Thanks for visiting!

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Bill- yes, but of course that's the one thing we have no control over. Thanks for visiting!

Hi Casey- I am glad you enjoyed it. Yes, there are certainly lots of ways to manipulate the horizon if you want to flatten the picture plane or otherwise challenge traditional perspective. I occasionally like to do that too!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I've never been here before but all it takes is the first visit for me to realize I really like what you are doing. Great work. Great thought.thanks.

Nancy Moskovitz, artist said...

Hi Deborah. Just had to comment on your beautiful writing that accompanies your beautiful work. Even Deborah Paris Fine Art selling site is elegantly done.

BTW, I know your work from Florida; I used to look for it in Cedar Key. Don't think we met though.

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Eldon. Thank you very much and welcome!

Hi Nancy. I hope to get back to paint in FL one of these days. Thanks for visiting!

Hi Tina- thanks!

patrickgracewood said...

Lovely clear writing that lets me see your painting better and makes me think about what and how I'm seeing

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking as I look through your paintings that there is something that reminds me of certain paintings by Corot & then you mentioned him!