Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Accepting Chaos and Clutter

In his book Learning to Paint Bernard Dunstan writes:

"Choosing a motif from the chaos and clutter of the visual material that surrounds us is, obviously, the essential decision in all painting based on nature.  What is not always appreciated, though, is that once you've made this choice, you'll probably have a greater chance of creating an interesting design if you accept all the accidental oddities that your motif contains, instead of trying to tidy it up by leaving out elements which seem unessential or tricky to handle...

The desire to label everything in a picture--this is a tree, that is a fence, and that is a house--can be a very limiting approach to selecting a motif.  Don't forget that leaving out invariably means making blanks, which your imagination or memory will the have to fill.  Most painters, experienced ones as well as beginners, aren't nearly as ingenious as the accidental effect of nature at producing formal relationships that are lively and interesting."

Apropos to those words is the accompanying painting, which I painted yesterday afternoon at the farm at the end of Hopper Road in Williamstown, MA, while hearing thunder claps slowly approaching.  I didn't want to paint the wagon by itself, so I moved slightly to the left to include a portion of a tractor (a wheel with a piece of plywood behind it).  Old farms always have equipment and junk strewn all over the place.  The painting is a 9x12 oil on panel.

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