My favorite travel companion

Any time I travel, my camera goes along.  I keep an eye open for interesting flowers—particularly those that we don’t find near home—and people or animals that trigger my imagination.  I also look for scenes that speak to me about the specific locale in which I’m spending time.

Cayman Fish Vendor

On a recent visit on Grand Cayman, I found a tree burgeoning with clusters of velvety violet and white flowers.  Colorful chickens roamed freely along the roadsides, in parks, and even in open-air restaurants.  And along the shore, fish vendors had set up temporary stalls to shade themselves as they sorted and cleaned the morning’s catch.

The image of the vendors remained with me long after we left the island, so I combed through my photographs to help me tell that aspect of the story of our visit.

It would be foolish to have tried to combine the tree, a rooster, and the vendor’s stall into one painting; that would be overkill.  I find that it’s more effective to focus on a single subject in a painting; and the simpler it is, the better.  I chose to omit from Cayman Fish Vendor (#100401) a fisherman who had been in the background of my primary reference photograph, replacing him with the boat (borrowed from another photo), which provided simpler lines to offset the jumbled appearance of the fish and the rocks behind.  The composition could have been simplified further by omitting both the corner of the canvas tent and the fishing boat, though both help to “tell the story,” and the color of the boat’s trim echoes the color of the fish being cleaned.

A word of caution if you try combining photos, as I did:  It’s important that the light comes from the same direction and angle.  Scale is also a critical variable, so relative sizes may need to be adjusted.  This is a situation when digital photography and editing capabilities prove a great boon to the artist.

A photo jaunt of just a few hours on Grand Cayman have provided me with reference material for several different subjects to paint as the mood strikes.  Everywhere I go, I try to add at least a few more photos to my reference file.

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