I’m painting landscapes now (and some exciting new workshops)

Or, how I stopped painting my internal landscape and got excited about the landscapes around me.

There are times when change is difficult or uncomfortable, and other times when you welcome it with open arms. This is one of those times.

I’ve spent six or seven years painting my internal landscape, exploring intuitive painting and producing hundreds of paintings that are all self-portraits (in a sense, of my emotional self).

Plant Power original art by Tracy Algar
Plant Power (2013)

It’s been a remarkable journey. I’ve painted myself through a divorce, moving from the city to the country, and two subsequent pretty dodgy (but thankfully relatively short) relationships. There was a lot of uncomfortable change there! Painting my internal landscape got me through these challenges.

As I’ve progressed through my painting journey, I have shared my paintings and my process with collectors of my work, and with other artists who found me by looking for self-discovery and intuitive art ideas and tutorials on the internet. I have found community from all around the world with collectors and other artists, and have got to know some very special people on this journey.

Over the past few years I’ve published a free ebook about the symbols in my art, two free intuitive art challenges, a free ebook tutorial for starting to practice intuitive art, and an online workshop with video demonstrations that takes you step-by-step through starting to make intuitive art.

Here’s the welcome change bit:

Over the past year and a half, I have experienced a change in my painting practice. I still paint intuitively, but now, instead of being inspired by my emotions and internal narrative, I am looking outwards at the world around me.

It’s not that I couldn’t see the landscape before. I moved to the country because I fell in love with the Kleinriviersberge (mountains). I chose to spend my first four years in the Overberg in cottages on farms that looked towards these beautiful mountains. But I didn’t paint them, because I needed to paint out my internal landscapes first.

I didn’t come through the several emotional ordeals without scars and went to see a therapist for a few months early last year to get myself on a more steady footing emotionally. Painting was part of my therapy, and, here is the interesting bit, the conclusion of the therapy also resulted in the conclusion of me painting my internal emotional landscape. I simply could not paint in the same way any more.

Rise (2018) Acrylic and mixed media on canvas 60 x 40 cm ZAR 2,650
Rise (2018) my final internal landscape painting

I began painting some abstract landscapes of my village. These landscapes were not painted in the environment. I was very much in the safe space of my studio and painting from memories.

Stanford 2 by Tracy Algar
Stanford 2 (2018)

Then I met someone who took me to places with beautiful views with the express purpose of being creative. He is a landscape photographer (actually he’s much more than that) who invited me to come along on his shoots. Our first date was a shoot, and many of our subsequent dates were shoots too. After a while, I realised that rather than just being an observer, I also wanted to be creative in the landscape. So I took along my sketchbook or a pad of paper with me when I was invited on a shoot and began to paint and draw the landscape in the landscape (the fancy art term for this is en plein air).

Walker Bay original abstract landscape by Tracy Algar
Walker Bay from Grootbos (2019)

When you are riding-along with a photographer who favours sunsets, there is only a short while to get your ideas down on paper before it gets dark, and so after a number of half-finished paintings and some rather hurried scribbling, I happened on a better way than trying to create a “whole” painting of my view.

A new process developed because…

I felt under a lot of pressure to paint something pretty or “finished” in sometimes just 30 minutes or so. AND…

I wanted to express how a location felt and what my experience was of being there. AND…

I didn’t want to paint from a photograph because I lost the looseness of my natural painting style and felt all uptight about getting it “right”.

The solution…

  1. Some quick and messy en plein air sketching without putting pressure on myself to create a “whole” painting while I’m out there battling the elements.
  2. A number of messy sketches to play with back in the studio, where I mix and match my favourite bits into a composition that I like.
  3. Lots and lots of new ideas in my sketchbook that inspire me to create larger paintings in my studio.

Exciting new workshops

I now offer workshops that include outdoor sketching, and then time back at my studio creating collages and paintings based on the sketches. It’s a fun process for artists who would like to spend more time outdoors but feel intimidated by the idea of painting en plein air.

Tracy Algar en plein air sketching art workshop in Hermanus
Tracy Algar abstract landscape collage art workshop in Hermanus

My new workshops are either one-day or two-day where we go out onto the Hermanus Cliff Path to sketch, and then put it all together in my studio at home in Westcliff, Hermanus.

Next workshop is 12th & 13th October 2019. More info here.

I will be creating an online workshop over the next month, and launching it in November. If you want to be the first to hear about when the workshop is ready, click here to subscribe to my studio updates. As a gift for subscribing, I’ll send you a free digital download of the collage artwork from the video above. You can print it up to A3 size. I recommend having it printed on art paper in archival ink if you would like to frame it and hang it on your wall.

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