Painting is first and foremost an obsession and passion, not based upon sales, notoriety, nor convenience. I am most fully alive when painting, and every part of my being feels most engaged in actively celebrating life.
When searching, perhaps even "hunting" for a place to set up and paint...I have learned to trust and give way to my instincts. There is this need to go beyond all the trappings of information overload that lesser experienced painters get caught up in when painting on location. I am intent to hone in, locate...and find those few elements that demanded of me, "Paint me!" What I call a process of finding the, "ah-HAH!"
What is it that spoke of beauty? How is beauty hiding itself? Modestly dressed in nature's subtleties? Camoflaged behind an explosion of color and distraction?
The plein air painter finds beauty often in the mundane and ordinary, and a new sense of mission to awaken the public's eyes. A public caught in the routine of daily obligations; whisking along burdened, pressed, and weighed down with cares. People unaware that losing that sense of thanksgiving for the gift of living, caught in the cares of life...leads to depression, stress, and a feeling of being "the living dead."
It becomes a crusade...as I said earlier, a sense of a mission thru paint to shout, "Hey! Wake up! Look at what you've been missing!"
I find often when painting along roadsides, people will stop and venture over to investigate what I'm doing. They often remark how frequently they drive by the spot unaware just how pretty it really is. The experience and memory of our chance meeting will stay with them, and is likely to confront them from that point on each time they drive by.
I am privileged to live in northern Wisconsin's Nicolet National Forest, and to be within close access to 1200 lakes and streams...with many dense forests and wildlife. Within a few short hours is Michigan's upper peninsula Lake Superior's national lakeshore. An area yet unvisted by many of our country's travelers. Like a great unknown secret.
As our country grows and expands, I believe our region will become one of the last near pristine areas. I am working hard to capture it as I know it, relenting that perhaps one day progress and expansion may undermine and obscure its beauty and quiet still places.
*Note- A number of professional plein air groups have sprung up around the nation and I believe the time for a northern midwest/Great Lakes association to form is well over due. In the early age of German immigration into Wisconsin in the late 1800's and early 1900's, there was the group known as the "Panorama Painters" and the plein airist, Richard Earl Thompson...proving we have a rich history here. I will be working with a number of artists in the near future to help form just such a group.
"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas...