I was very fortunate to attend a demo given by plein air painter Lori Putnam during the Women Painters of the Southeast Annual Exhibit opening festivities. Lori is an extremely dedicated and hard working artist and her passion for painting shows in her work. She is also one of the nicest and most sincere artists you could ever hope to meet. During the demo she painted a painting from a plein air sketch she had done on a recent “painting snow” trip to Wisconsin with Dawn Whitelaw, and she also had many inspiring words of wisdom about being and artist and how she got started on her journey. (Note: She had the photo to her right on a screen just for us to see the scene she was painting. During the demo, she referred to her actual plein air sketch, to create a bigger work.)
There were 2 take aways I have been pondering in my mind since the demo. One is to think about the purpose of your painting before you get started. Are you wanting to emphasize form, light and shadow, light and dark patterns, line, color? The painting she did in the demo is a relative value painting. Essentially just 3 values and how you make them relate to one another. There is a lot to think about during the painting process and hopefully part of that process will be intuitive but, to start with a plan of what you are going for instead of just haphazardly starting to paint resonated with me.
Lori was also the judge for awards for the show, which I can imagine must be a daunting task with so many great paintings to choose from for a select few. She said while viewing all of the work she was "looking for paintings that had not been painted from ego, but from the soul." I have heard this same idea, not exactly in these words, from other judges too. If we try and paint from that place where as Lori says, “soul” or our personality is reflected in our work and we feel we have achieved that it in the work we show, maybe the judges will feel it too. Something to think about.