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I have always found painting outdoors to be exhilarating.  Mother Nature is the best teacher, and if you make a commitment to be out there day after day, she will "speak" to you.  During the painting process, many changes take place before you.  Perhaps a beam of light will illuminate a particular area, or a cloud pattern will form.  The foreground may go into shadow, making the composition more dramatic.  If you pay attention to these changes and incorporate them into your work, it will be more interesting, exciting and believable.

Working small -- mostly 8" X 10" and 9" X 12", but sometimes larger--gives me more time to observe (since I am not trying to cover a large area with paint) and relate to the scene before  me.  I particularly like late afternoon and evening light.  To capture this, I must work very quickly, before the fleeting light is gone.

I'm a firm believer in painting on the scene as opposed to using photographs.  I feel that photography can't take the place of time spent with your subject--but it can serve a purpose.  In my case, I may complete a field study before the light changes too drastically, and then paint a larger version of the scene back in the studio.  That's where a photo can come in handy, because it will include more detail.  One quick brushstroke in a small painting can become a large mass in a bigger one, so you need more  information to fill it in.  I am careful not to rely on the photo too much; for example, I don't want to be swayed by the color in the photo.  I turn to my study for color and value, and try to relive that scene in my mind.  I recall my emotions by closing my eyes for a few moments and imagining myself there.  Feeling the breeze, the sun, I try to recapture my feelings at that time.

When I want to paint, I head out the door to find a scene that will spark my interest.  This may take hours, or it may take minutes.  What tends to catch my eye is the light-- the pattern and contrast created on the subject, or the warm glow of a late afternoon bathing a particular landscape.  I'll sometimes drive around, searching everywhere for the right spot, or it may be right in front of me, waiting to be painted.  Either way, I'll generally spend some time getting acquainted with the scene, working out in my mind the design and distinguishing light and dark patterns.

I ask myself, What's important here?  What do I want to say about the scene?  Is it the warm light of a late afternoon, or am I drawn to a particular effect, such as one ray of sunlight illuminating the valley on a cloudy day?  Perhaps it's a city scene full of life.  Or are the buildings the real story?  Whatever it is that seems most important, that's what I try to hold on to from start to finish.

high_wire_act.jpg (150153 bytes)Whether it's a landscape or a cityscape, my first reaction is to break it down into a simple statement.  By paying close attention to shapes and value, I start to paint a building in the same fashion as I paint a tree or a mountain, by responding to the scene in flat and simple shapes.  (The only difference is that a street scene requires a bit more drawing at the outset and more attention to perspective.)  Then I'll go back and add details and variation of color.  I generally like to include some elements of human life in my work when I can--a house, or maybe some animals or people.  I want to show the gentle sides of nature and man in a harmonious existence.



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John Budicin
638 W 34th St.
San Bernadino, CA 92405

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