Fox Painting – Detail View, watercolor on board, ©Rebecca Latham
Why do you paint like a maniac?
I occasionally get questions like this. Why? Why do you paint like a maniac? Why put in so much detail? and so on. Sometimes this comes from other artists. Sometimes from the general public.
I shrug. Why not?
Which is met with something to the effect “That would drive me crazy.” or “It would take forever.” – paired with a look that would make one wonder if I had grown another head, and a chuckle.
Possibly. I smile.
This, mind you, isn’t always how conversations go. Many, many people find my work inspiring. ..which in turn, inspires me. I am very grateful for those individuals.
Quite often, when I am out gathering reference, be it early morning in a forest, twilight on a lake, or just spotting a wild animal or bird, the location doesn’t matter. When I have a moment to stop and take in what is around me and really observe.
I am overwhelmed. Emotion wells up and I blink back tears. You see, when I see nature, I see perfection and beauty in the patterns and color harmony that cannot be put into words. The closer one looks at the mesh of intricacies in all nature, animals, the more there is to see. ..the more amazing it is. and the more I am overwhelmed.
And so, when I paint, I try to communicate this.
I have been told on numerous occasions that upon seeing my work in a gallery, etc., that viewers have been brought to tears. It seems odd, but this is the greatest compliment. ..because it means I have accomplished my goal in saying in my painting what my words cannot.
At least for myself in my own work, it seems it would be a lack of respect not to paint these things in nature as they are. I admit that I am simply unable to do so. I fall far short of painting the true representation of what I see in the natural world. But I try my best.
So, perhaps it is a bit crazy to paint like a maniac. I cannot, however, say what needs to be said without it – and I am not sure that would I want to.
Perhaps, my answer is simply, I paint this way because I can.