By Michele de Bragança
A few of the things that I think are most important when embarking on a painter’s journey happen to be things that I am still working on myself, and really involve more wisdom than technical knowledge. We, as painters, all study and learn from other painters who are better than we are.
We all continue to work on the basics, like simplify, choose the main shapes that create a strong design, keep your shadows and light separate, stand back often and look at your work from a distance, don’t “chase the light,” etc. But for me, the most important lifelong lessons I have learned from my mentors are not just the technical tips, but the lessons more difficult to live by.
Gem Lake was another place I’m familiar with, having painted it several times on recent pack trips to the Eastern Sierra. It has an elevation of 11,000 ft. The overcast skies made for the most wonderful study in grays!
My Advice for Artists
• Trust yourself. Don’t try to paint like your favorite painters — find your own voice.
• Be your own teacher. Don’t just stick with what works or what sells, try new things — a good painter’s work is always evolving.
• Work really hard (paint every day), and never give up. You will always have setbacks, and many rejections. You never really “get there.” The carrot keeps moving forward. We are blessed to love what we are doing enough to weather these disappointments. As Kevin Macpherson says, “Painting is sort of like fishing. You are out there enjoying the beautiful day, feeling the wind, taking in the sights and sounds —you never really know if you are going to get anything or not!”
Painting regularly at a favorite place affords the painter the opportunity to become more aware of the nuances of light, atmosphere, and the effects of weather changes on the landscape. In this case, I’m fascinated with how much the water shapes change as it freezes and thaws with winter turning to spring. Being a wetland area, the water changes from day to day, and always offers something new to paint.