Painting is personal: finishing the Promised Land painting

The Promised Land, detail, by Karen Gillis Taylor, October 2012

I’m finally putting this painting to bed, started back in September. I particularly like this cropped section of the painting, and am already planning to make a second one based on this view.

I painted this scene from memory and imagination, a composite of my deep seeded feelings about New Mexico and Southern Colorado. Water represents life, and the image seems to acknowledge how we meander through our life journey taking many paths.

The Promised Land, oil, 30 x 40″, by Karen Gillis Taylor, 2012

Aristotle said, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” I know I have had a deep connection to nature since I was a very young child. My love for art began about the same time, so it seems only natural that the two loves are intertwined in this life work of mine.

The Promised Land, detail

The deeper the feelings for one’s subject, the more difficult it can be to paint. I had to detach myself from this painting by purposely walking away from it for days at a time. Then I was able to come back with fresh eyes and get going again.

Painters should allow emotions and ideas to permeate their paintings, and in this painting I felt the need to preserve my sense of wonder in the presence of nature in all of its glory. Well, not just in this painting. I guess I feel that all the time.

I mentioned early in other posts that I was deeply hoping to make this painting exude a sense of peace. This was as much my own selfish desire to capture more tranquility in my life as the wish a viewer might see that in it as well. Have you ever wanted to set forth an idea at the outset of your painting or photograph that might try to communicate a certain theme or emotion?

I think the next painting might be called “Peace Like a River.” Maybe there is also a spiritual yearning to see something greater to wash over our land, and our own selves.


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