I don't know what it is about a particular image that draws you in, that ignites a spark of creativity, and beckons you to return to it repeatedly. I have a photo on my computer that I took some time ago of a particular group of farm buildings and each time I see it, I am drawn to paint it. First I painted it on a small 9 x 12 canvas in oil (Outbuildings, shown at top)as a demo in a workshop, using only a palette knife, and I stayed fairly true to the proportion and the scene as it appeared in the photo. I did, however, push the autumn colors beyond what appeared in the photo. The second time I used the image as source material, I altered the concept, changing the weather to a blustery winter day, with snow and stormy grey clouds, painting in oil again but this time on a 12 x 24 canvas. (That painting is almost complete and not pictured above.) Last week, during a watercolor workshop, I once again used the photo as inspiration, this time painting in watercolor on 300# rough paper (Cane Hollow Farm, bottom photo). I used a landscape format, larger than the one before it, using a 15 x 30 sheet. Again I painted a winter scene, but used a limited palette with what I felt was a pleasing mix of warm and cool colors. I added a typical white Georgia farmhouse to the scene as well as a dirt path or roadway, and kept the painting quite simple.
A funny aspect of this is that I could not remember where I was when I had taken the photograph and it was really frustrating me as I was working on the second painting. A couple of weeks ago I went to visit friends. Across the road from their house is a wonderful huge pasture, usually filled with cows and an inviting vista. With the trees bared once again in preparation of winter, I was able to see some barns in a clearing and thought, "Gee, that looks like that gambrel roofed barn in my paintings. Oh, and that other building looks like..." Yes, indeed, there was the image I had photographed, probably two years prior. And it held the same excitement for me then as it did when I first snapped that picture. I have no doubt I will paint these buildings again!