Expression through movement in landscape painting

Recently I gave an interview to a very bright young lady from the UK who was studying my work for an A Levels school project. Here is one of her questions, and the response she inspired: "I really admire your style of brushwork in your images, especially in  "The Cypress House", where your strokes around the top of the trees and in the grass make me feel as though the painting is moving. I really like this and wondered why you choose to use this technique in your work?" -ST

Dear S.T.,

That is a wonderful observation and a great compliment. Thank you! I paint the landscape for several reasons, but mainly because it evokes in me a strong positive emotional response. So when I'm painting,  I try to convey the emotional energy I feel from the subjects I paint. There are many ways to express this emotional impact--through use of line and color choices, through composition, and yes, through brushwork (movement), to name a few.

There is movement all around us in nature if one will sit still long enough to observe it. A perfect way to practice this is to go down to the ocean shore and sit on the beach. Just sit and see how much life is moving and teeming all around you that we often are too busy to even notice.

Last week when I vacationed at the beach, I did this very thing. I noted the hundreds upon hundreds of  tiny crabs popping in and out of holes in the sand. I saw thin veils of sand blowing in the wind and subtly changing the shape of the shoreline. Small schools of fish zipped past my feet as I waded in the water. And if I really wanted to watch the world change before my eyes all I'd have to do is watch the sun rise and set. Thousands of miracles take place before our eyes every day if we take the time to notice.

In my paintings, I don't even attempt to compete with the miracles of nature. But I do try to celebrate them in my own small way. The use of movement in my work is one of the ways I capture these fleeting moments. On a more mundane, formal level I also am aware that showing movement through brushwork and through the composition is a way add interest to a painting and move the viewer's eye around the work of art. Thanks for your questions and good luck with your project!