Over the years, I’ve done less and less painting outdoors. At the same time, I’m being more specific about the wildflowers I see outdoors, and in paintings done in my studio, I’m working to integrate the plants with their environments. Through the process of looking closely at their roots, stalks, leaves, flowers, and seed pods, I hope to represent their living energy and their/our connection to the larger natural world. I show them as connectors of land and sky as they are rooted in the ground and reach up above the horizon. They serve as a subject to focus on in the landscape that I always seemed to be searching for when I painted outside.
Working plein air simplifies the maze.
There is a complexity to life that is beautiful and conflicting and unclear; marks made can be all of that.
My landscape paintings often, but not always, begin with working outdoors en plein air, but they are always based on my observations of the elemental forms and colors that make up the sea, land, sky, and mountains that surround me. The relationships between those things and the rhythm and poetry they make are important to me.
It is always surprising the way the landscape can emote stability and calm, or even quietness in placid water or a haze of fog, then alternately, movement and agitation in an ocean wave or approaching storm. The horizon is the constant that acts as a ballast and a reference point to mark space. Rather than just recording the scene, in landscape painting, there is always the opportunity to push beyond mere recording to find an analogy to something in yourself and something that others will also find relatable.
Image at top: John Knight, Yarrow, acrylic on mylar, 36 x 30 in., 2022.