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One Artist’s Interpretation — Blue Heron Fine Art Blog

One Artist’s Interpretation

by Jim Puzinas on July 8, 2009

Summers are great times to be out and about, particularly if you are a landscape artist. Interesting scenes present themselves everywhere accentuated by strong light and rich colors. Influenced by the visuals before them, artists will often interpret what they see; seeking to convey a certain mood from the paintings they produce.

In addition to painting “en plein air”, artists frequently work from reference photos when producing a finished work. Over the years I have found this technique to be of help when I want to spend more time studying the subject matter I have chosen to paint. The photo below is one I took of Valley Cove, Mt. Desert Island, ME*.  When taking the picture, I focused on the interaction between the people in the foreground and the pleasing environment around them. 

photo of Valley Cove, Mt. Desert Island, ME

photo of Valley Cove, Mt. Desert Island, ME

In the painting I created from this photo, I wanted to share the same feeling of peace and solitude that I first experienced when I was there and took the picture.  I strengthened this feeling by simplifying the painting, removing items from the image that I found distracting and superfluous.  By comparison, my painting is not an exact reproduction of the photo but an effort to capture the relaxing and contemplative mood that I found at Valley Cove that day. 

James Puzinas, Valley Cove, Somes Sound, ME, o/c 12x16

James Puzinas, Valley Cove, Somes Sound, ME, o/c 12x16

  *Valley Cove lies on Somes Sound just above Southwest Harbor in Mount Desert Maine. The Sound is the only fiord in North America with steep mountains running right down to the sea. The Cove is an idyllic spot on any summer day offering sheltered mooring for day sailors or a cool and refreshing swim for the hikers of Acadia National Park. I was able to capture this image on a recent visit.

An interesting side note. Before the days of cameras, reference “photos” were still made by artists, but were called reference “sketches”, which were mostly done in pencil, such as this scene of Somes Sound sketched by Fitz Henry Lane in 1855.

Fitz Hugh Lane, Entrance of Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, (1855)

Fitz Henry Lane, Entrance of Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, (1855)

John Wilmerding Collection

From National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) Web site:


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