Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why I can't paint Yosemite

Question for you artists out there:  What imagery are you drawn towards?  For me, I tend to love the landscape... but usually specific elements of the landscape really get me going.  The light at midday or big grand vistas don't usually do it for me.  Late afternoon is my favorite, when the colors deepen, shadows get long and the play of lights and darks offers plenty of contrast.  I have a soft spot for trees, particularly singular trees, in the landscape.  I am drawn to water, fog and where sea and sky meet.  To me, these moments are full of drama, but I tend to think of them as more intimate moments. 

Don't get me wrong...  big dramatic places like Big Sur are really beautiful, but I'm not as compelled to paint them.  I think perhaps if I found a little cove and if the light was just right... well, I'd paint that.  
I found myself thinking about this over Thanksgiving weekend when my family and I took a trip to Yosemite National Park.  I really enjoyed it all and took lots of photos. The Sierras are gorgeous and we visited Yosemite Valley, taking in the towering waterfalls and immense granite cliffs.  We also visited Mariposa Grove to see the ancient Sequoia trees.  All in all, breathtaking. 

What I will most likely end up doing a painting of is this one tree that I spotted on our road trip.  We came across a large reservoir in the Central Valley where we stopped to stretch our legs.  The light was gorgeous and I found myself drawn to this one wonderful tree down in the water.  

The closer I got to this beauty, the better it got:

Don't be surprised if you see this image come back in the form of a painting in the near future.

My husband snapped a photo of me at work, doing research for paintings.  You can see it on his blog here:

House on Bear Mountain 

This is me in Yosemite, at Tunnel View.


-m said...

The valley is so visually intimidating. It speaks so loudly in its own voice that it always threatens to drown out the voice of the artist. I don't blame you one bit for eschewing the valley for the tree. The tree has something important to say that most have not heard yet.

GiselleG said...

Beautifully said m. :-)

Carrie Clayden said...

LOVE to hear artists share their process, this was very insightful. Never thought about how overwhelming a painting of Yosemite would be, and how in contrast a single tree is more intimate. It made me think how the less is more is so true. I like calm compositions and your paitnings have such a soothing feeling due to the simplicity of your composition. I am also drawn to your palette and style of glazing, and I can't wait til we can meet in person someday Giselle.

bridgette said...

Wonderful post Giselle in explaining how I too focus in on the more intimate threads that make up our visual world.
What an amazing tree you came upon! Visiting the Yosemite is on my Wish List. I hope to make it. I just must!