THE LANDSCAPES ENHANCED EDITION, INTRODUCTION
The most enjoyable experience for me is still Plein Air painting (literally, open air) and its natural companion, Alla Prima (painting from life, usually in one session). What could be more exhilarating than getting out under a great sky and feeling a fresh breeze while I paint the delights of nature? Painting on the spot from life is the method I learned from the start of my training, and the one I regard as the most challenging and therefore most rewarding. Of course, almost anything imaginable can go wrong. We cannot control the weather, or rearrange the scenery, or give ourselves more time, or more light, or be more comfortable, or tell the bugs to go elsewhere, and so on. Landscape painters therefore must be imaginative and resourceful. Fortunately, there are ways to prevail. We must accept whatever circumstances are present at the time and place we choose to paint. Inspiration, therefore, soon gives away to problem solving—which is why, for me, ending up with a decent painting is always a victory of sorts. Because so much in the situation is beyond my control, I must rely almost entirely upon my skill. That is one reason why I find doing a landscape (or anything else, for that matter) from a photograph to be so unexciting and unsatisfying, not to mention boring. Even though it is clearly necessary under certain circumstances, the delicious challenge is always missing. I prefer my work to spring from my immediate and direct experience of my subject, not an image from an unthinking optical device.