I don't usually paint from memory, but Alison is encouraging me to do so more and more. I usually take photos and work from those, and in the old days I would go out and paint on location. This is the first of two blogs on two paintings worked from memory.
Recently I finished reading The Lord of the Rings...again, and I always find new little nuggets each time I read it through. Towards the end of the book when Frodo and Sam are in Morder struggling to get to the end of their journey, Sam begins to lose hope, but then he sees something:
peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the
mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it
smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope
returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced
him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing:
there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."
Driving home one night a couple of weeks ago, we were experiencing some dynamic skies with swirling clouds and storms. As we traveled along a dark country road I looked up, and in a breaking of the clouds there shone a beautiful star. I kept looking and looking, and that quote from Tolkien came to my mind and I tried to remember the colors, the mood, the lighting--everything in the hopes of trying to recapture that at some point on canvas.
Last week we attended a local wine, food, and art festival, and I set up an easel and decided to work on a painting while we were there. That scene came to my mind again, and so I jumped right in and worked up a composition and started laying in color. Was the image exactly what I saw that night? No, but it definitely portrayed the mood and feel of that evening for me.
By the end of the day, I had a finished painting, but I didn't know what to call it. Though originally in my mind it was an evening scene, Alison said it looked more like morning light, and I agreed, so I thought about naming it "Morning Star," but that didn't seem to fit. "Call it Perelandra," my brother said. And there it was...and so I did. If you're not familiar with the name, it is what C. S. Lewis called Venus in the second book of his space trilogy (also the title of said book).