I painted this small painting of rocks in Maine this summer. I've been looking at these same rocks for 18 years and while they don't really change -- they're too big and they own their spot on the beach -- the tide rises and falls, the light tracks across them as at the day goes by, seaweed collects in the crevasses, small pebbles catch and pile up, fog rolls in and the rocks can be full of color wet or parched dry in muted gray tones.
In the studio, I took out a larger canvas and decided to make a stronger contrast of the light and shade that happens in the afternoon when the rocks on the east side get very dark. I still gave them color variation, even in the shade, though in my head, I kept thinking that I needed to removed the details from the shady side. It's part of what needs to happen to focus the eye where it's supposed to look.
One of my studio mates is working on a very, very detailed painting, the kind of work that's done with a magnifying glass to paint in individual bricks or hairs. It got me thinking. and today, I took out an even larger canvas and bigger brush to revisit the rock painting idea. I started with simple black white and gray and lay out the large areas of light and dark. No details in the deep shade. I'm going to set it aside for a few days and think about it.