The tyranny of sight

Now that I have been home almost a week, the memories of Stehekin are inevitably beginning to recede, and the annual painting competition in November in Zion looms next. Getting the supplies, the car winterized, teeth cleaned, bills paid and so forth before leaving again takes focused attention.

I still have quite a few Stehekin drawings waiting to be turned into paintings, and I contemplate which of my studies from there will become larger paintings. I worked on one post-location sketch during this busy week: just below Heaton Camp on McGregor, where we met the snow- and alpine larch-line (about 6500 feet). It was a spectacular place on a perfect day, everything I hoped for in coming to the residency.

Still inspired but somewhat freed from the reality of the place, the feeling comes through. You can see difference between my photographic note-taking and the painting. Much as l love painting in the actual environment, sometimes not being there allows you to channel the emotion, freed from matching what you see. For those of us driven to represent places, sometimes the look of the place gets in the way of the spirit of the place.

Suze Woolf photo of McGregor Mountain

The photo I took, roughly the same view that I drew while standing in the snow.

Suze Woolf painting of McGregor Mountain trail

“Just below Heaton Camp” watercolor on hotpress paper, 11″ x 15″

Stehekin meant “the way through” in a local Native American language. The dip in the distant blue mountains of the picture is the low pass through the crest of the North Cascades, and the source of the river that flows through the Stehekin valley — a fitting last day.

2 comments on “The tyranny of sight

  1. […] painting.  It’s often about personal interpretation of the scene.  Not literal. Check it OUT.  And here is a link to Suze’s slide presentation while the Artist in Residence at Zion […]

  2. karenarand says:

    Suze…. your wonderful writing and remarkable paintings remain, as ever, an inspiration to me. !!!

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