I completed the twelfth painting in my Intimate Spaces series this week. My thoughts behind painting this series of beach paintings is that when people go to the beach, they carve out their little spaces, arrange their belongings, and then seem to act as if they are invisible within their own little territories. They’re not.
Maybe I’m just a voyeur, or just have an artist’s eye for observing, but I have always been drawn to people-watching. The beach, of course, is a great place to be an observer of the human animal, but there are many other places to do that, too. More thoughts for future series.
Many artists have created series of paintings around themes in the past century and a half. Most notably are Monet and his haystack paintings or Van Gogh and his sunflowers. Some artists work the same theme for their entire lives like still life painter Gorgio Morandi who essentially painted the same objects over and over.
And what is the point of painting the same thing over and over? you might ask. For some artists, like Monet, it’s to study the object or scene in different lighting conditions. For instance, he would often have several canvases at different points of completion, and then work on them when the same lighting and conditions presented themselves. Most notably, his Rouen Cathedral series, but he was known for this throughout his life.
For me, it is the challenge to drill down into the subject. I like to paint the human figure in situ, or it’s natural, unposed state. How do people interact when they think no one is watching them? With each other, or with their surroundings?
My series of beach paintings, I have sixteen planned in all, does exactly that. Children, families, individuals, seagulls, the landscape – all of the interactions within a limited scope of place. If it were a different beach or place, there would be different subjects and activities.
But I am surely getting tired of painting sand and sea and sky. Not doing the beach for the next series, for sure but I already have ideas rolling around. First, however, will be a little plein air painting for a change of pace.