As my painting style continues to evolve my goal with each piece is not a literal rendering of the scene. Instead it is to capture and convey its essence.
In terms of composition, I look for simplicity. I’ve found that there are many opportunities to simplify a scene without compromising its sense of ‘place’. Therefore I’ll seek out the big abstract shapes in the landscape and use them for the underlying design concept. And because I’ve departed from a literal interpretation, I’m free to rearrange elements to fit this concept. In this way I am able to describe the scene in my own “words”.
Finally, capturing the essence of a landscape involves a realistic rendering of color, light and atmosphere. This requires direct observation and is why most of my paintings begin in the field with a plein air study. But studying the physical aspects of nature isn’t the only reason I paint outdoors; for me, the sensory experience of being there is equally important. There’s no better way to get to know a place on earth than to sit for a couple of hours and contemplate it while painting. This intense observation brings a spiritual intimacy with the scene that can’t be achieved in mere passing and allows me to “speak” with complete sincerity in each painting.
Dave Santillanes Fort Collins, Colorado 2011