I sketched in pastels as the sun came up today, in my back yard. There’s a particular view that has inspired me, and is now churning around in my head. I will stretch and prepare a canvas for it, today, and work on it alongside my current series. It is related in it is all about edges and depth of field of vision, but it will look quite different.Working on several paintings at once is a method that I think most artists employ ~ Monet did so, working on the same scene on many different canvases that depicted different times of the day, which enabled him to waste not a second of time, switching between different paintings as the light changed. Using the methods I use, it is simply not possible to complete paintings that quickly, or in one session, unlike my plein air paintings. This is part of the attraction of painting outdoors, in a single session. It removes a level of complexity and brings painting to a level of spontaneity and reaction that is pure creation.
It is magic, and the state of contemplation an artist enters when painting is a magic state. Plein air painting in particular links us to the earliest artistic stirrings of humankind. Personally there is no doubt. Had I lived 100,000 years ago, I would be the person in the cave covered in freshly dug ochre and and black from charred trees making marks, seeking to understand our existence through pictures.
An art piece seems, at first glance, to be utterly useless (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde). It hangs on a wall, or stands in a room, passive, sleeping. It is far from this. It is deeply useful. Art has been used over the years as a tool. It has been used to attempt to influence the outcome of hunts to ensure food; it has been used to acquire money (this comprises most of modern history); it has been used to influence other people and to pass on concepts and beliefs, or to condemn, as in propagandist art. It is also a potent and universal method of understanding the astonishing fact that we are conscious at all. It is a hard-wired expressive response to being able to perceive.
Artist learn to recognize their own impulse to create, to understand it, and how to express and to summarize it in strokes of paint, or the arrangement of physical objects so that the viewer will respond. Every time you glance at a painting or artwork, you are being influenced and, in a sense, manipulated. Artists are master manipulators.