McKinney Marsh Morning, 8x10, field study en plein air, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2010
Last week end we had a gorgeous day with relatively low humidity which made for a fantastic day of plein air painting at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Salt Marsh Unit, Westbrook, CT
There was a lovely softness about the light that morning and it took me a while to build up enough layers of paint to convey that feeling through shimmery veils of translucent color. I really love acrylics for that kind of flexibility to be able to use the paint really thinned down like a watercolor wash, over thicker more opaque layers of paint. That technique allows for very subtle nuances to be created which is good because Nature herself is filled with subtle nuance.
Right now I'm reading a book I picked up over the week end, an autobiography of Andrew Wyeth
Amazon has the paperback edition
I have long liked Wyeth's work but it is only recently, after studying a lot of Winslow Homer's work, especially his watercolors that I gained a deeper appreciation for Wyeth's work. I don't really know that there is any particular connection between Homer and Wyeth, except that for whatever reason one led me to the other.
Wyeth is known as a regionalist, famous for painting his home state of Pennsylvania. In this way he has a connection to another artist I recently read about Harry Leith- Ross who also painted the Pennsylvania landscape.
I think that I am probably also a regionalist painter, finding my inspiration in the salt marshes, coast line and fields close to my home. I added to my permanent blog pages, an article titled The Connecticut Landscape, which explains my regionalist leanings, you can find it by clicking the tab at the top with that title.
It's interesting that Regionalism as an art movement came about during the Great Depression and that we are currently in a time of great economic recession, if not depression and I am feeling moved to paint my own home surroundings and create paintings that convey a mood of gentle peace and reassurance.
Here's a blurb from Wiki that gives a good introduction...
Regionalism is an American realist modern art movement that was popular during the 1930s. The artistic focus was from artists who shunned city life, and rapidly developing technological advances, to create scenes of rural life. Regionalist style was at its height from 1930 to 1935, and is best-known through the so-called "Regionalist Triumvirate" of Grant Wood in Iowa, Thomas Hart Benton in Missouri, and John Steuart Curry in Kansas. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Regionalist art was widely appreciated for its reassuring images of the American heartland.
Lynn Salerno in History of American Art, University of North Carolina, writes All of the Regionalist painters... explored the people and landscapes of America in unpretentious, yet powerful works of art. The themes and styles of these Regionalist paintings reveal the artists' reactions to, and against, the sophisticated styles of abstract art prevalent in the urban east.
Artists respond to what is going on outside and inside of them, in society and in their hearts. While I don't consciously eschew modern life and technology you will notice that I rarely include images of modern life in my paintings. I tend to edit out cars, buildings, cell phone towers etc. in favor of a purer, idealized landscape. Am I a reactionary? Possibly! It is an intentional choice I make when painting but it is not a conscious reaction to our technologically saturated society.
Are my quiet, calming landscapes in response to the turbulent times we live in. Possibly! But again they are not thought out and planned for that reason, the paintings happen as they happen.
In a more specific way, I am trying to establish my reputation as a Connecticut/ New England painter, in short a regionalist, in a broad sense of the term. Lately I have been reevaluating my business plan and have decided to concentrate my efforts closer to home. I am currently searching out well established galleries in CT, RI and Cape Cod that would be a good fit for my poetic landscapes.
So if anyone out there has a gallery recommendation for me please send me an email with your suggestion!