Excerpt from the interview with Ying Li:
LG: You primarily paint now from observation outdoors.
LG: What keeps you tied to observation? Why not just paint in the studio where there are fewer distractions? Can you explain how your work might change if you didn’t paint something you were looking at?
YL: Your relationship with the motif is very different in outdoor painting. When you’re out there and inside of it, you are only a tiny part of your surroundings, that kind of perspective and scale is so different. It’s not like something right in front of you, as in a still life. I like being part of the scene, being there. I love that sensation when I’m out there.
I think my Chinese background kicks in somewhere here. In Chinese philosophy people and nature are one. When you see those classical Chinese landscape paintings there are often a little person somewhere in there, but they are so tiny compared with the huge mountains. A little scholar on a donkey crossing a little bridge with huge chunks of mountains right behind him, things like that.
Also there’s no previously set focus, that is the another important thing. For example if a model posing, he or she usually is your focus. You deal with the relationships of all the other elements with this person. When you’re outside painting it’s like wow! What am I going to do? Where to start? What to choose? Right away you’re just thrown into this chaos and light changes so quickly, you have to make your decision constantly and quick. I love that kind of challenge. I react better and it keeps me on my toes.
I never felt I didn’t know what to do when I’m out there because right away I jump into the painting. In the studio sometimes took me forever to get started. I could just sit there, stuff myself with snacks, listen to music and flip through some art books, but when I’m outside, it’s boom! Right into the game.
Read the full interview and separate audio podcast here»