Carolee S. Clark
Newsletter December 2013

My "Aha" Moment
"Sales Are Bright" figure painting by Carolee Clark
© Carolee Clark, "Sales Are Bright," 20" x 20", acrylic

Repeatedly, the experts tell artists that we need to talk about our work.   Tell a story behind the creation of the art.  I have always imagined that it should go something like this,

“I was walking along a path through dense forest and came to a crystal clear stream when a shaft of sunlight hit the far side making the water sparkle and the trees and bank light with every color imaginable.  I quickly set up my easel when the sun went behind a cloud and it started to sprinkle making the colors on the canvas drip.  I heard a rustle of leaves and a few pebbles slide down the hill behind me …”
Well, this isn’t generally how I paint.  I do paint plein aire and at some point I will talk about my experiences with that.  However, I am primarily a studio painter so I don’t have a lot of wonderful outdoor stories to tell about my landscapes. 
So often they are a composite of a something from a photograph and my imagination.  One of the questions I am often asked is “where is this from?”  The trees or mountains or building or some factor of the painting came from a real life location but the chances of me remembering from where are not very high. 
I was talking with Carol G. who was very interested in a particular painting.  She was asking me all sorts of questions about the work such as where was the scene, how did I come up with the idea, why weren't the windows rectangular, why wasn’t my door more distinct like the windows and why did I put in red lines.
Since I didn’t have the story about walking through the woods, I just had to give her the truth.  I told her how I came up with the scene taking a little from this photograph and making up the rest.   I explained the compositional decisions that I made like how the red lines lead your eye, how the patterning of the field or ground break up the space, and how I didn’t want a distinct door because it would have been very dark against very light and would have brought the eye to that spot when I didn’t want it to go there.  With every question I had an answer.  To me it wasn’t very interesting but it was the truth.
Carol was interested!  Even though I didn’t have the story about driving by the house and unloading my easel from the trunk of the car!  I was amazed.  She was interested in how my mind worked.  Why I came to the decisions that I had made.  It was such an “aha moment” for me!   Carol loved the painting and she just wanted to know more about its creation.

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