Friday, May 22, 2009

Places that Inspire


It Takes Two 20 x 16" oil on linen
© 2007 Katherine Kean

What makes a place inspiring?

I believe that the quality that makes a location an inspiration will vary it from person to person. For me it took a long time of honing before I understood what does it for me.

I spent many years painting en plein air, which is a specific form of painting meaning literally “in the open air”. It involves a certain amount of preparation and presents specific challenges, fitness and painting speed among them, I believe, as the light changes so quickly. Monet changed canvases every 20 - 40 minutes to accommodate the shifting light. Then there’s heat, cold, bugs, rain, to contend with. Oh, and let’s not forget poison oak and snakes and other critters. In spite of all this I loved it and still venture out to paint the wild places from time to time.

However, my process has gradually evolved. I had come to a point where I was continually searching for the landscape that naturally contained what I wanted to express, some kind of ephemeral attribute that mirrored the vision in my imagination. I could visit a place that would embody the characteristic I wanted, only to come back another day and find it gone. It’s still a bit of a mystery to me to define what combination of elements are necessary to make a location someplace I desire to paint. It seems to be part a quality of the light, maybe the angle at certain times of day, and part something I bring with me.

Although I continue to refer to the landscape, these days I rely a little less on the details of a location, preferring instead to go for what the character of a place expresses to me, or I reverse the process and create an image and then go out to look for landscape references to fill in the details and make the vision complete.

7 comments:

BETH ROMMEL said...

I enjoyed the three posts this week. I am inspired to paint and to keep on blogging. Thank you.

Dianne Poinski said...

Katherine, I love this description of "place" and of your process. I can feel the emotion you bring to the scenes you paint.
PS. I think I saw on Alyson's blog the other day that you are in Tujunga. I lived in Sunland for 8 years. I loved those mountains, especially in the winter!

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Beth - Inspiration is good! I can't wait to see what you're working on.

Hi Dianne - Thanks! I'm glad it's coming through.

How cool - when did you live here? I lived in Sunland 18 - 23 years ago and have been in Tujunga ever since.

Jean Spitzer said...

This post explains a lot about how fascinating your landscapes are; that interior, exterior quality.

Dianne Poinski said...

Hi Katherine,

I lived there from 1981 to 1988 - so we must have been there at the same time. Our first house was right on Foothill and our second house was on Scoville. Small world!

Juan Carlos Eberhardt said...

muy bueno, sugestivo y misterioso
un abrazo

Katherine Kean said...

Thank you Juan!