I can’t conceive of anything being more varied and rich and handsome than the planet Earth. Its crowning beauty is the natural world. I want to soak it up, to understand it as well as I can, and to absorb it. And then I’d like to put it together and express it in my paintings. This is the way I want to dedicate my work.
– Robert Bateman
I recently subscribed to the twice-weekly newsletter at http://painterskeys.com/ and the subject of the first email I received was “Why Landscape?” which has had me thinking about this very question.
I never used to paint landscapes, and didn’t much enjoy looking at them either. I was always more into caricatures and portraits, and anything involving the human form.
I still like those things, and I intend to paint more of them, but recently I’ve been focussing almost competely on landscapes.
I think I started to appreciate them when I first discovered Richard Schmid. His landscape paintings were not like any I had seen before, the brushwork and use of colour was simply inspiring, and I started watching his demonstration DVDs and read his book Alla Prima – Everything I Know About Painting.
I realised that there’s a certain freedom when it comes to painting landscapes, that you don’t get so much with painting portraits or figures. Portraits generally have to be pretty accurate (if you’re aiming for realism at least), and you pretty much have to rely on painting what you see in front of you.
Landscapes on the other hand, have a lot of potential for invention. You can move things around, add or remove objects, and generally express the scene in whatever way you choose, in an attempt to capture the beauty you see in the world around you.
I think the simplest answer I can give to “why landscape” is because I enjoy it. And isn’t that the best reason for doing anything?
Still life – now there’s a genre I still can’t get into. Personally I just find it boring, but who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll find inspiration there and take up still life painting!
Why do you paint what you paint? Leave a comment and let me know.