Welcome to guest blogger and plein air impressionist painter Kathleen Robison. I asked her to share the perspective of an artist, because to create her wonderful pieces, she must commune with nature in a unique way. I am trying to learn to be more observant about the natural world around me, and I can imagine how much more detail I would take in if I knew I were going to try to put it on canvas.
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I started painting landscapes, plein air (French for open air) landscapes about 14 years ago when my youngest child was around one. My husband would watch the kids on Saturday mornings while I took a class in Laguna Beach on impressionist landscape painting along the ocean. Wow, talk about being put in a whole different stratosphere coming from an inland city in Southern California and being outside painting the gorgeous ocean. I was in heaven! Plus it got me out of mommy mode for a short stint. It was an immediate stress reliever and the love and respect of nature just kept growing within me. Learning to paint brought its own set of new challenges but they were dwarfed compared to the incredible awestruck feelings of observing nature.
I am convinced that physical changes happen in the body and one begins to crave being outside in nature on a regular basis.
While thinking about composition, color, and design of the painting before you are deeply enjoying the cool breeze, the beautiful blues of the ocean and the feeling of the sand beneath your feet is like a foot massage. So even on a day when the painting wasn’t going so well, the gift of being in nature and its healing benefits was always there. Nature heals the mind and soul and gives us buoyancy for our regular life. I always went home exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. Happy for the outdoor experience while physically tired from trekking gear over rocks, sand, and stairs.
Years earlier I had spent time going on silent retreats learning to contemplate and meditate like the mystics. I got the concept but struggled with sitting still for long periods of time and the more I tried to focus and concentrate the harder it got. I let it go and took a gentler approach of small amounts of meditation when I had children, but when I began painting in nature it was as if the sky opened up!
I experience immediate relaxation, focus, and contemplation while painting. A few hours will go by and you are in the flow and lose all track of time. And this is a lovely experience of renewed mental and psychological energy.
I feel connected to nature in the most profound way and I feel thankful for the healing that happens when I am painting in nature. Picasso once said “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” and I say “nature washes away from the body and mind the crankiness and rigidness of an everyday life”.
Kathleen Robison is a plein air impressionist painter from San Clemente, CA. She loves painting the beautiful landscapes and people around her. She can be found on her impressionist oil paintings website and at Studio 7 Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA.