This past week I reread the book Art & Fear. I was first introduced to this wise little tome over ten years ago. Its one of those books that you can reread again and again, finding new and deeper insights each time. This time was no exception. The passages that seemed particularly apt had to do with what the authors call the "correspondence between imagination and execution"- that is, the place where your work actually gets made. The idea is that at the beginning the work can be whatever you can imagine but as it progresses- as you actually begin to make it- the possibilities narrow with each successive brushstroke, until at the end only a very narrow range of choices remain to complete the work. It is then its own thing, separate and apart from the world and what inspired it. In other words, as Annie Dillard (paraphrasing Paul Klee) wrote:
The painter...does not fit the paints to the world. He most certainly does not fit the world to himself. He fits himself to the paint. The self is the servant who bears the paintbox and its inherited contents.
I have read those words a dozen times over many years and have only just begun to understand what they mean. I had this ridiculous notion that I was in control!
This past week I've been working on the large painting-the underpainting is posted here. This first image is one glaze over the foreground and trees and the sky laid in with opaque paint.
Once the sky was laid in, I began to adjust the values and color temperature. It gets tricky here because you have to remember that each successive glaze will darken that portion of the panting. In this next image, I've put several more glaze layers on the foreground and the distant trees, repainted a portion of the sky, and adjusted the distant tree shapes and color harmony throughout.
So far, I've done very little to the large trees in the foreground and nothing to the small piece of water in the very front. And the sky will need repainting again. There are zillions of little adjustments to edges and shapes and color needed everywhere now-each needing to be fitted to what came before-to the paint.