Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do We Paint What We Love or... Love What We Paint?

Rupunzel is an open studio 20x20 oil by Shirley Fachilla.
I love to paint rim light. It doesn’t matter if it’s a landscape or a figure, a horse or a house. I seek out rim light en plein air and in open studio. Why do I paint this same thing (though admittedly with different subjects) over and over?
Is it because I love the way it looks and want to explore it or is it because I feel competent painting it? In short, am I painting what I love or do I love it just because I think I can paint it in an okay way?

[Rim light is when an object is primarily in shadow but is outlined in whole or in part by light. Rim light often appears if you paint from the dark side of an object.]
I believe I love to paint it for both reasons. I do think I can often pull it off (perhaps because I paint it so often!). But I choose to paint it because I love the drama it imparts and also the anonymity. Paint something from its dark side and you lose the details. You generalize the specific and play up the contrast. Contrast often equals drama. And lack of detail makes it mysterious. The subject becomes not the exact thing painted but the light itself. The subject becomes light, shadow and reflected light.
I wonder what you, other artists, might love to paint and why. And of course, I wonder what you, art lovers, might love to own!


  1. Excellent composition!...but the light and color in the shadow makes it sing...I love the rim light too!!Thanks for defining it for us!

  2. J'aime son attitude... A chacun son interprétation et il est important de ne pas apporter plus d'explication... Le spectateur doit s'accaparer l'oeuvre et en faire son histoire...
    Très belle peinture.

  3. Simple and elegant--beautifully done!

  4. I tried to post here twice and failed I think....this is my third try so forgive me if all three show up

    I love the sensitivity of this portrait and the transparency of the light

  5. I'm in the midst of painting a backlit figure. It's challenging me. I'm pulling for the drama, but in doing so finding that I'm loosing all my great color. A bit frustrating. I'm not certain it's my favorite, but I haven't given up yet...

  6. Thank you, Robin. I've been loving the intense colors of your flower field paintings.

    Martine, thank you so much. You understand just what I have been attempting.

    Don, I appreciate your comment especially since you are the master of elegance in both representational and abstract painting.

  7. Christine, thank you for trying, and trying and... I especially appreciate the "transparency of the light." What a beautiful turn of a phrase. Thank you.

    Susan, please don't lose your vibrant color! Your sunlit figures shimmer; I know you'll find color in the shadows, too.

  8. Hi Shirley, I continue to enjoy your blog, whether I find the opportunity to post or not. There was recently a Cezanne Card Players exhibit at the Met. You are following in great footsteps with that subject matter. Thanks for your post on my blog. It was another fun, exciting and insightful Karin Jurick workshop, and I'm happy to be back to looser, smaller paintings. Looking forward to settling into daily paintings at the end of June. I'll be back, so thanks for checking in on my blog.

  9. Thankyou for your lovely post on my blog and I am so pleased you will get the book I talked about. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! I didn't expect to like it but it had a big effect on my thinking.
    Your work has a wonderful softness showing the effusion of light - could almost be pastels rather than oil. Lovely work!

  10. Lovely painting and so nice to read what you truly enjoy painting.


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...