Monday, January 11, 2021

No More Landscapes

I have never been more sick of landscape paintings than I am at this moment.  In all fairness, I’m not sure I’ve ever been sick of paintings before so…

I used to watch Bob Ross and William Alexander create beautiful landscapes when I was young, and it was nothing short of magical.  A few dabs of the brush and a cloudy sky appears.  A few more strokes and there’s a happy little tree.  It’s still very cool to watch as an adult because I know I can’t do it.  I admit I have never actually tried.  But I can extrapolate using the data from all my other artistic endeavors.  My landscapes would look like blotches of paint on a canvas.  Messy blotches of paint.

Way back in August, I wrote about an idea to put some landscapes on my next book covers.  I haven’t given up on that idea.  I’ve been putting it off while I write, but I haven’t given up.  I took some time off work to hang out with family during the last two weeks of December.  Well, maybe it was most of December.  During that time, I was still thinking about possible pictures I could use.  I kept an eye out for interesting scenery I might capture.  I kept trying to imagine the nature around me as a painting.

I discovered a few things in the process.  Number one, there isn’t a lot of nature around me.  People don’t paint landscapes of the suburbs.  People don’t paint a majestic mountain with a swath cut for utility lines.  Number two, winter can be ugly.  This is why people like snow.  It covers up all the gray and brown and sameness, and we don’t have any snow.  Number three, sky is boring.  Sometimes clouds swirl and float and dance around the sun in amazing patterns.  And sometimes the sky is just a big blue spot taking up more than half a picture. 

I was already getting pretty sick of thinking about landscapes when I sat down to see what I had to work with.  When I tried to turn one of my pictures into something that possibly resembles a painting, I learned something else.  Landscape paintings are somewhat idealized.  Yeah, I knew that, but I hadn’t really thought about what it meant.  A painter creates a lovely stream that draws the eye to the ripples and splashes.  In real life, it’s that patch of muddy weeds that captures attention.  A painter envisions a field of colorful wildflowers.  They may have dropped a few petals or have a broken stem in the foreground to give the scene character.  In real life, half of those flowers are wilted and the prettiest ones are in the back.  I’ve been trying to edit and combine and mash together some scenes to make what someone else might paint.  It’s been fun.

Meanwhile, I still have books to write.  I left a couple of characters in the middle of a conversation when I took a break.  In fact, one of them was in the middle of a sentence.  That hasn’t been driving me nuts or anything.  I’ve been plotting out the rest of that scene in the back of my mind so I can eventually pick up where I left off.  Guess what they’re talking about.  I bet they’re about as sick of talking about paintings as I am of thinking about them.