I have included the photo of this painting (see below), since it is a good example of changing from the reference in order to better express the experience of being in that place. This photo is from my recent trip to northern BC.
The area behind the dark tree on the left was actually rock that was going up the steep side of a mountain. However, when I painted it that way, the land felt barren. Standing in that spot, the sensation was of cold clear water surrounded by green and growing things - far from barren. Changing the shapes behind to hint at evergreen trees was much truer to how it felt to be there. It did take me quite a few layers to get that background just the right colour and value so that it did not detract from the strength of the marvelous solo evergreen.
I opened up the middle background to give a sensation of distance and of light.
Loved the little tree on the upper right catching the sun. Nothing to change there! Well, except, I did increase the dark around the trees in that area to express the feeling of a very deep forest.
And so the artist's journey with any painting is a search to be true to the subject, while hoping to touch on the heart of things. It is not unusual to leave realism behind on this search.
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