The summer before last, I spent a few weeks painting in the North Carolina mountains. I took with me a copy of Edgar Payne’s classic book, Composition of Outdoor Painting, and passed a day reading it in a mountainside apple orchard. Apples and Edgar, I love spending time with inspiring friends. A kindred spirit, Payne was essentially self taught, as I am , once painting signs for a living too.
Edgar Payne was a pioneer of the California Impressionists. During the Great Depression he took students out in the California landscape to paint with him, teaching by demonstration. Recording his thoughts at night resulted in the book.
In three chapters he eloquently express the validity of landscape painting with an almost spiritual reverence, packing a painters mind with luscious nuggets of painting wisdom.
The book is not about technique. Technique comes with hours of solitary effort in the studio. Originality comes from standing in front of a blank canvas with a searching heart. Much of the book is devoted to expressing Payne’s approach to art and selecting worthy subjects that exhilarate the mind. Nature presents, the painter selects. A fine mind makes fine art. Knowledge precedes authentic painting.
Sensitive landscape artists like Edgar Payne venerate nature. Thoughtfully selecting elements from her, they explore the fertile void, the mystical realm between the real and the perceived, creating paintings that reveal the truth of her beauty. Inspiration and creation are born in this rich valley of conception.