Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Painting From Your Mind Rather Than From a Photo or Observation.

Painting from one's mind rather than a photograph or observation can be tough. However, if you focus, it could be one of the most rewarding gifts to an artist. The ability to put on paper or canvas what he/she sees in his/her mind  doesn’t come easy for everyone. But with a little bit of training, programming, observation and emotion anyone can achieve it.

This weekend I ran the Ragnar Trail Relay at Alafia River State Park. It was an amazing race and the trails were spectacular. But just before the race started, my beloved iPhone died. At first, I was disappointed because I wanted to take pictures of the different trails I was about to run. But then, I realized that it was going to be better not having a phone since it would free my hands, in case I tripped over a root (famous on these trails) and it will be an excellent opportunity to train my brain to capture the moment visually and recreate it in my studio.

Well, so what to do? My phone was dead. How was I going to record what I saw? I decided to try to record the amazing beauty by just using my memory. When I saw something spectacular, I looked at it and looked at it and told my brain to record as much info as you can. I would focus on the light, the colors and textures and what I was feeling in that moment. I felt that the emotion would anchor it more in by being. When there is emotion in an action, our brains record the moment better as part of survival instinct. I had to do this while running because I had a teammate waiting for me at the transition. I did this exercise on every consecutive leg I had to run. Yes, I had to run three different trails at three different times of the day (afternoon, night and sunrise). Lucky me, I am a slow runner so I got to observe more than all the Speedy Gonzalez's that passed me. Also, lucky me again, when I ran I had amazing light, even at night. With the eyes of an artist everything always looks amazing.

So did my experiment worked? Was I able to recreate what I saw on the trails?

On Sunday afternoon, since I couldn't do much because I was all sore, I focused on painting. I was amazed how much I could remember. I couldn't stop painting. Just that afternoon, I painted from memory more than half a dozen small paintings. The images were stuck in my brain and flowing through my hands onto the carton. I didn't look for any reference. I didn't want any distraction or influences on my fresh memories. I focused on remembering everything I felt while running. I know that probably the memories aren't completely photographic images or realistic. But I love them. They tell the story of my race and what I saw and felt in the moment. They are the images recorded in my head painted on a carton and my story of wonderful race.

So here are my "Little Sketches for Big Ideas" from memory. I hope you enjoy them and see the Ragnar Trail Relay at Alafia River State Park, through the eyes of an artist who happens to run very slow and who records the beauty in the moment through her eyes of her memories.

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Thank you for readying this post.

Vanessa Montenegro

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©2016 Vanessa Montenegro
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