Artists who paint in nature will often tell you that the first painting of the day is usually a scraper (a term meaning a bad painting which will be scraped off so you can use the canvas again). I have spent enough days out there painting to know the truth of that statement. By the time you hit early evening though – if you are determined enough to be out for the whole day – your sense of colour, composition and economy of brush strokes peaks and you may…just may, come back home with a keeper.
I have also been on much longer camping and painting trips. And the experience is similar, but deeper. Day after day, your work gets better and your sense of nature grows more acute. Your colours peak and your composition gets to almost zen levels. On such trips I usually do three to four paintings a day, and come back with about ten keepers. That’s a lot. Trust me. Like fish, many of them get away from you.
Thinking of these experiences has led me to coin the concept of #UrbanShedding. Yes in many ways it is another term that means #Unplugging, but where unplugging has come to be associated with devices and being on the grid somehow, #UrbanShedding is a deeper “letting go” at a spiritual level.
As an artist I know I notice a significant transition when I undergo #UrbanShedding in nature. You may be immersed in nature, deep in a national park, but as you paint your first few, your mind is still fighting battles miles away in an office, a commute or complex human relationships. Your bills creep into your colors and your anxieties reflect in the vigour of your brush strokes. It takes time to shed all these trappings off. But I strongly believe that the results are very different and genuine and closer to nature when you have given up the Urban in you.