Two very different approaches to painting the landscape


Left: Landscape in the nursery, Right: Vigil (in progress)

A playful mural and a very serious oil painting

For the last two months, I’ve been working hard on two very different projects featuring landscapes. The landscape doesn’t often play such a primary role in my artwork and it’s turned out to be a fortunate coincidence that I’m working on both of these paintings at the same time.



This is a painting featuring my sister-in-law Molly, the second of a planned series of five (check out the first painting in the series, Vigil). In this painting, she surveys her property on the outskirts of Seattle. In terms of hours, I’d say it’s just over half done, and although I’m feeling good about my progress, it’ll be a while before I can call it finished. But I finally feel like I’ve got the sky figured out, after going back and forth between it and the trees session after session.



This landscape painting couldn’t be more different from the first one. It’s a mural I painted for the baby’s nursery (I’m in the ninth month of pregnancy!) with the help of several friends. It has been quite a learning curve for me, since I normally paint small works in oil, typically referencing a photograph closely, whereas this is a full-height, wall-to-wall painting in acrylic, stitched together on the fly from many images, views out the window, and even painted from imagination.

It has been really interesting to compare the very different ways of going about the actual painting process, and very freeing for me. I am noticing changes lately in how I approach my work, as I become more spontaneous and intuitive in both the planning and execution of my paintings. In the oil painting above (Molly looking into the landscape), for instance, my head is spinning trying to keep track of every little tangled branch, and I am coming to realize that maybe they don’t all need to end up in the painting at the same exact location as in my source image. I’ve been working so closely from a reference for my paintings for so long that I don’t allow myself much freedom. But it feels like such a relief to think that I can still look and reference this image, but rely a bit more on my intuition in future.

I hope you’ll keep an eye out for a more in-depth post about the mural and to see how the oil painting turns out!