I don't know what possessed me to sign up to paint landscapes. This is not my thing. I don't enjoy them - not even to view a really well crafted piece by someone who does enjoy landscape.
I'm reading "Art as Therapy" by Alain de Botton. This book came to me as a gift - it was a total surprise and means a great deal to me. de Botton starts out describing what he views as the "seven functions of art" - remembering, hope, sorrow, rebalancing, self-understanding, growth, appreciation. In describing hope, de Botton discusses landscape. He states:
The most perennially popular category of art is the cheerful, pleasant and pretty kind: meadows in spring, the shade of trees on hot summer days, pastoral landscapes... This can be deeply troubling to people of taste and intelligence.
This pretty much sums up my response to landscape - they are troubling. They are too pretty, too simple, too perfect in most cases. de Botton goes on to state:
The worries about prettiness are twofold. Firstly, pretty pictures are alleged to feed sentimentality. Sentimentality is a symptom of insufficient engagement with complexity, by which one really means problems.
Problems... That is what art has become to me - a means with which to address my problems. I rip things up to get out my frustration and reassemble them to produce something less ugly. I paint objects in solitude to ease my loneliness. I compose scenes where the shadows have more life than the subject because I giving more energy to my sadness than to my life... To the viewer, the work may come off as pretty, but to me, there is always some disturbance being addressed.
I think I have avoided landscapes for the entirety of my artistic life because they always felt so simple. They are what they are. I fail to see the mystery in creating a scenic picture. I fail to see the symbolism in creating an iddlic scene. I fail to enjoy the "real thing [pretty pictures] represent."
So here I am, trying to paint landscapes... and at the same time, trying to learn to hope again. I have avoided "taking too rosy and sentimental a view" and most definitely have "suffer[ed] from excessive gloom" in recent months, and really, throughout my life. I have spent an excessive amount of time consumed with thoughts of all that is wrong and have forgotten to appreciate what might be right if only I took the time to hope and think positively.
I'm trying. There is always something to learn and through landscapes I guess I will explore the lighter side of life. I "hope" to be moved by that which is simple and pretty rather than always being consumed by that which is difficult and sorrowful.
During my undergraduate studies, I spent a great deal of time in the painting studio working with traditional oils. Teaching middle school art for the past 12 years has taken me away from those roots. This "one a day" project is aimed at re-inspiring that creativity and technique.
Other "one a day" painting blogs to check out:
Kellie Marian Hill
The usual Subjects