Drive Towards the Light, Not the Thing

A Meadow in Rhodes, Greece

pastel drawing of a small meadow in Rhodes, Greece

A quick pastel sketch, under an hour, when I lived in Rhodes, Greece. I would start the day with my portfolio and backpack strapped to my back, hop on 50 cc motor scooter, head out of the old town of Rhodes, and just go anywhere as long as there were interesting pockets of light.

A lot of artists when plein air painting choose to paint the best “postcard” image, I can’t blame them. But I find that choosing the thing instead of the light is always a disappointment in the artwork. Here you have a spectacular view (without interesting light) and the resulting lack of vitality drives me or another artist to push, and push until they are left with crap. Of course it is fantastic when the thing and the light couldn’t be more awesome, win/win, but that might take days to find instead of doing any work.

This pastel of a meadow is a good example of not a particularly interesting landscape but the light on it was magnificent. The lit area was the perfect moment that created a path of light where there wasn’t one 1/2 hour earlier. The fleeting nature of that moment makes an urgent to moment to work as fast as possible before the magic is gone.

The entire experience feels like the light, the location, and my being are humming vibrations of pure energy. And hopefully when the hour is up, the artwork as something of that feeling in it captured forever.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 9/16/2020

2 Replies to “Drive Towards the Light, Not the Thing”

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