Reflections at Lake McArthur, acrylic, 24x30

Reflections are difficult to get right, so I was thinking about the artist’s dilemma – paint what you know, or paint what you see?

Some of the old masters, like Leonardo and  Thomas Eakins studied reflections  in gory technical detail, and were obsessed with understanding their nature.  

Other’s believe everything we see are splotches of value and color that just need to be placed in the right spot.

One way or the other, I wonder if realist painters can get away without a thorough understanding of optical laws of nature.  I think that even when we paint what we see, we should be able to consciously choose when to be technically precise and when to leave things ambiguous or intentionally inaccurate in favor of design or an idea. I believe that the effort of accumulating knowledge has value, even if it’s not reflected (pun intended) in every single thing we do. 

But maybe I’m just overthinking it – there will always be planners and pantsers after all, and I am guessing there’s a little bit of both in most of us.

Happy painting!