I choose not to work from photography or have a computer screen next to my easel. Don't get me wrong; I have no problem with anyone who works from photography. It simply doesn't work for me.
Frankly, I am envious at times and would enjoy the convenience.
Its pretty alluring, the idea of having an unlimited amount of time to paint some fleeting effect in the wind-free warmth of one's studio, taking breaks when the mood strikes. Ah, the comfort and control.
The image of the Artist pondering a large painting in their studio has become the archetype of what an artist is: what's not to like?
Its all there--the alchemy, intrigue and solitary romanticism of the creative process.
Honestly, I love the sound of it.
The problem for me is that I can never get what I need most in my studio and that is the energy of a place - its something I need to feel, not just see.
Places hold the energy of their histories and if you are very still and humble they will whisper their stories to you.
Standing at edge of the prairie in the wind-blown snow and simply taking in the sound of a banging strip of roof tin transports me to another place. The fragrance of old hay, the feel of snow giving way under my boots, the cold, the discomfort, the profound sense that life here was never easy.
Everything on that homestead resonated a palpable, low-grade vibration of lonely dreams, earnest effort and slim margins.
If I could get all that from a photo I'd be all over it.
It's essential for me to be fully engaged, mentally, physically and spiritually to wring the most from an experience. The natural, sensory friction in the process of working from life is the leavening agent that expands my possibilities of reception.
With greater reception I can go deeper.
I'd enjoy the ease and convenience of photography but I prefer to feel things, and by necessity that means giving over to the experience and often being uncomfortable.
I don't wear my discomforts of painting outdoors as a badge of honor, but the necessary price of admission to connection.
If I am successful, all of those feelings and experiences are woven into the paint and perhaps the painting will be something more than another picture.