Inspiration is a beautiful thing because with it comes desire–the desire to learn more, to make more, to excel at what you love. For example, simply looking at masterfully executed paintings is enough not only to provide ideas for your next project, but also give you information on color and composition, the elements that make a painting succeed. This is why books such as Art Journey America Landscapes: 89 Painters’s Perspectives are such gems. Edited by Kathy Kipp, Art Journey America Landscapes (available as an instant download in the ArtistsNetwork eBook club) includes the perspectives of 89 artists as they share their inspiration, as well as their specific techniques, in a variety of art media. This collection, featuring artists such as Lorenzo Chavez, takes you behind the scenes and into the artists’ minds.
“I’m inspired by scenes of erosion and places where the bare earth exposes the layers of time,” says Chavez, “where wind and rain have carved out canyons, arroyos and mesas and left the land rough and barren.” Besides painting, Chavez enjoys hiking, collecting books, visiting historic sites and mindful meditation. “We live south of Denver,” he says. “It’s an ideal place with easy access to a variety of landscape subjects, close to culture and family.”
Kipp: What inspired this painting?
Chavez: This is a historic adobe church northeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Painting there reminds me of my childhood in New Mexico where the church was a place where life is celebrated. Growing up in a Catholic household, we attended weddings, social gatherings, funerals and baptisms at various churches similar to this one. For generations, churches were the center of our community. The cemetery, too, is part of those important rituals and a reminder that life is fleeting; our existence tenuous.
Kipp: How do you plan your compositions?
Chavez: My compositions are always about movement. I intend to create a sense of movement through the use of diagonal lines, shape and texture. I would like the viewer to move into and through the landscape and to feel life pulsating within the scene.
Kipp: What mediums do you use and what are your main painting techniques?
Chavez: I work primarily in oil and pastel. My main technique is based on an Impressionistic, broken-color style. With pastel, I have a large selection of colors and values available to quickly apply color notes. With oil, I use a limited palette of six colors plus white. Using big brushes, I mix large pools of thick impasto to create broken color and texture.
Kipp: Do you paint en plein air? What practical advice do you have for those who would like to try it?
Chavez:I love to paint en plein air. It’s exciting to have life surrounding me during the process. It’s very stimulating to be outside using all of my senses while painting. My advice is to get outside, paint from life, prepare yourself for the elements, streamline your equipment, work in short, highly focused allotments of time (approximately two hours) and use all of your senses to help create the painting.
Reading and studying Art Journey America Landscapes is a practical way to enhance your landscape painting skills and to feed your desire to view beautiful art. In addition to being part of the ArtistsNetwork eBook club (learn more here), Art Journey America Landscapes is also available in hardcover at North Light Shop. The paintings within are nothing short of breathtaking.