Letting go of Realism

1. June Lake No.1

This past weekend I went in search of a natural swimming hole & came upon the Quemahoning reservoir. Such stunning landscape! After a deeply satisfying ( and chilly!) swim, I set out to paint in a new direction. I’ve heard variations on this suggestion from several sources. Basically:

“Let go of your dependence on ‘Realism.’”

These three 14” x 11” paintings were made in succession, holding the intention to remain loose and gestural, and put ‘getting it right’ out of my mind.

Clearly the first one (above) is a recognizable landscape. It’s painted with more panache than usual, but it’s still recognizable as a Patrise landscape.

2. June Lake No.2

Number 2 is obviously wilder, more impulsive and messy. (It’s badly in need of color adjustments!) But my grip on the ‘subject’ is loosening. I smeared, scratched and blobbed, chose unrealistic hues, and put a ‘wind & waves’ energy into the strokes.

3. June Lake No.3

By number 3 I’m starting to think more in color and light, loosely arranged in a landscapy pattern. It creates a fresh feeling, reminiscent of the wind toying with the lake surface.

I definitely had my ‘art dysmorphia’ with these. I thought the first was awful & painted over it. It did not improve it. The second I knew was a mess and didn’t like it at all. The last one I thought was weak & stupid.

A day later and I wonder what the heck I was thinking! They’re experimental and thus revealing , interesting, and promising. I’m fond of them all. And today a stranger who came upon me painting at the river offered to buy #3!


4 thoughts on “Letting go of Realism

  1. I really like them all. I’d have them all on my wall. I love the colours and movement and the shapes. I think it’s hard to take a step back. Maybe instead of painting over things instantly you should give it a few days and sit with them and see how you feel after that. I know the need to make things look realistic, especially if that is something you have been going for when painting in the landscape for a long time, is really hard to get away from and anything that doesn’t meet that standard is going to look wrong. Your inner art critic is overly harsh and isn’t always right. Do you have enough canvas/board whatever to make a whole bunch and keep them for a while? Maybe giving yourself a minimum time to keep them may help get over that initial reaction.

  2. Hi Patties

    They are all more than fine. Just paint and let them alone for a year or two even. Then you can re-see them.

  3. Jennifer Williams June 12, 2020 — 9:58 am

    Love this posting! Did you sell number three?? I hear you now have a painting “coach“?



  4. Great pictures, Patrise!! I love No 3 the best, but like all three! thinking of colour adjustments, there’s an artist in Berlin who paints a lot of scenes from around here in the most wild colours: https://libbypage.eu

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