Throughout my painting life - well, most of it, I've always had the urge to take my paints and stuff with me on holiday. My answer to my husband Thys's protestations was "If you don't have petrol in your tank, you cannot fly". On our recent trip to Croatia with a few good friends, it was just the same, and I have never regretted it. What a beautiful country. There were lots of inspiration for paintings and I was adamant to at least try and put something on paper, using acrylics that dry very quickly.
There were lots of inspiration for paintings and I was adamant to at least try and put something on paper, using acrylics that dry very quickly. One might say that painting is a private job, sometimes even lonely. To try and achieve something amongst friends and strangers, on a sailboat, without missing any fun and not being in anybody's way is quite a challenge. I never thought about the fact that a sailboat, even when moored in the late afternoons would be rocking all the time to say the least.
Art is often about choices. Moments when your friends were socializing, reading, resting etc. you choose to paint. Unfortunately, you immediately put a bit of a wall between you and the rest of the people.
Your confinement need not always be limited to outdoor locations. In this case it was a cabin or somewhere on the boat, where the swelling of the sea created an atmosphere that wasn't your intention at all. I looked longingly at one of the boats that moored next to us one afternoon, where everybody shared the experience and painted together. Most probably it was a painting holiday.
Thoreau noted: "We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad amongst men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or walking is always alone; let him be where he will".
Sometimes, in order to get the best views of the towns and island with surrounding sea and boats, one had to make the effort to walk up a steep mountain in the scorching heat to a castle or fortress and it made me think of Frieda Kahlo's quote" Feet, what do I need you for, when I have wings to fly".
An artist needs to work from three sources. Self – generated photo reference, from life and from imagination. Painters prefer one or the other, but all three are needed for maximum feeling.
Looking and seeing on location, adds a living presence to your paintings. The value might not be in those paintings that you carry in your portfolio when you return, but life reboots visual memory, and when you are alone in your studio, removed from your subject, your brush will suddenly take flight and with your memory and imagination give new content to your work.