Knowing a place

I’m halfway through a project at the moment and, true to form, I find myself itching to paint a landscape. Whenever I’m focused on a series of work (that doesn’t involve landscapes whatsoever), I always feel the need to drop what I’m doing and escape to a painting of some open space. Like opening a window into the outside world.

On this occasion, however, I am going to resist the itch. I have a long and ever-increasing list of things that I simply must finish, and there’s never enough time in the day. (We all know that feeling, right?)

Thinking about landscapes did make me wonder, though: does it help to know the place you’re painting? In this case, I’m not referring to the idea of becoming familiar with your subject so that you can represent it more accurately, but to knowing the place like you might know a person; such that you could describe its character or its presence.

Whenever I get my ‘landscape itch’, it is always to paint a location that is significant to me in the real world. One that I have a history with, or a memory of. I’m rarely painting landscapes for the sake of improving my technique (although I’m sure I’d benefit from doing so!)

Intuitively, I think knowing a place does change the experience of painting it, even if this is undetectable in the finished piece. It’s important to have some kind of connection to your subject, as this keeps you engaged and passionate about your work. After all, we artists #doitfortheprocess

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