Finding Warm-Weather Inspiration in the Dead of Winter
If you've ever gone on a hike with me or seen my average trail running pacing stats, you'll know that I tend to cover plenty of ground but often not very fast. A lot of my time on the trails here in the White Mountains is taken up by a) snacking, b) napping, c) just sitting around staring at the view, and d) taking pictures of random things all around me. All of these activities, however, serve an artistic purpose (at least c and d, maybe not a and b as much).
When outdoors I am constantly searching for inspiration, observing light, color and texture, and seeking out interesting compositions in the landscape that could potentially become paintings. I snap pictures of everything - the way a cloud shadow is passing over a particular ridge, the raking light of late afternoon on some especially striking rocks, a patch of mist lifting off from a gully, closeups of little moss cushions, cairns, cairns, and more cairns. Everything could be useful in the studio later. So I photograph everything.
At home, or sometimes in the field if I really have time and I'm carrying the materials, I will make little sketches in watercolors or gouache in one of the many sketchbooks I keep around my studio or in my hiking pack. These small vignettes are meant to work on composition ideas, catch a very attractive turn of the light or colors I saw on the trail, and record some of the feelings that day. Was it hot and sultry, damp and cold, furiously windy, or the most pleasant mountain day imaginable? The sketchbook is where I take time to go back to the day in my mind and remember what I loved best about it; what was worth saying something about in paint.