Painting from memory

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Without my camera, without even a drawing pen and paper, I went walking on the dikes today.

For the twelve years that I was caretaking my aging mother, often I could not  take the time to paint and so I would paint in my imagination. It wasn’t good enough. I wanted to preserve beauty or anecdotal incidents, a bit of humour, a slice of life, but time was consumed elsewhere.

I promised myself upon retirement to go out walking every day and to paint every day but I’m far from keeping that goal.

Today, walking without the camera, I set myself a task of remembering what I saw and challenging myself to painting what I remembered. Don’t laugh! I had three sites in my mind and came home with one. I left the other two behind somewhere. I can’t remember quite. Perhaps they fell in the ditch or got covered in dust from the gravel path. Maybe they are tucked into the grasses like a daytime bear, so camoflaged that I can’t see them.

In any case, I took up that challenge. When I got home, I got out the brushes and the paint and fired up the painting arm.  Since I didn’t have the camera, I can’t show you exactly what I saw.  Somewhere in between the inaccuracy of my brain and the inaccuracy of my painting techniques, I came up with this gem.

Then I searched back in my archives to see if I couldn’t find a photo of the area I was remembering. When I wrote about it, I said,

There was the way the dike path split the marsh grasses like a bolt of lightening diminishing to its pointy end far off in the distance, only to be stopped in the mid ground by two small poplars and the heron tree. Overpowering everything were the pure blue  mountains, receding in distinctly shaped layers of progressively lighter hue.

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but I realized that when I painted it, I didn’t get that awesome size of the mountains to show. It was a fun exercise, but I’m not entering this one in any local painting contests, that’s for sure.

When next I go walking, I’ll try to find the two other ones that I lost and give them a try.

It’s an interesting concept, but I think it needs a lot of work.


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4 Responses to “Painting from memory”

  1. lesliepaints Says:

    I think you did just fine from memory and it’s a very stiff challenge for you to give yourself. I would be excited about going back and taking my paints with me. Good job!

  2. swatch Says:

    I love this K – you really should do more watercolour – or maybe more painting from memory – this is one of your best (that I have seen here)

  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Thanks, Swatch,
    I’ve am doing another one again today which I will post when finished. I’m just letting it dry, waiting for another coat.
    It’s rather scary for me how different reality is (what I really saw) and what my memory tells me about it a few hours later.
    It’s a good exercise though and I will continue with it, if I can find the time.

  4. swatch Says:

    I have seen the next painting – perhaps this is a good process to allow you to escape the ‘tyranny of reality’ and paint what you like. There is a dreamy quality to how you are working which I find attractive.

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