Chasing the Light

As artists, we always seem to be recording things. Sometimes it's difficult to separate real life from the process of recording. As I'm painting a scene, I'm recording what's happening, or what has happened, or what I wish was there. So am I really "in the moment" or chasing a moment that has already passed. While painting "En Plein Air", we call this loop "chasing the light." As light continues to change on the scene, the question always arises: "Do I change the painting to match the current light, or do I try to remember what the light looked like a few moments ago?" If one chooses to change the painting, there is a risk that the painting will never be completed because you will always be "chasing the light." It's a dangerous loop.

Recently, my life has been an exercise in "chasing the light." As each day dawns, I have a list of projects that need completion, but as the sun arches across the sky, the list grows longer. Some items on the list are crossed off, but many more are added and the sun keeps moving. I find there isn't time for me to capture every detail, to finish what I've started before the light is gone. Is this the onset of age? Has time begun to move more quickly, or is it my imagination?

When I am painting in the studio, 6 to 8 hours can go by without notice. Often, with some shock, I realize that it's 4pm. This doesn't happen when I'm painting outdoors. I am more aware of the passage of time and more spontaneous in my reaction to the changing light. Leaving the studio is healthy. When there are deadlines for murals, illustrations or other projects, the temptation to "chase the light" is always present, and it never works. Now and then, one needs to stop, get off the treadmill, and take a walk in the woods.

I took a walk in the woods today and pushed the deadline into tomorrow. No chasing the sun for me.


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