Neil Welliver, Blueberries in Fissures, 96in x 96in, oil on canvas, 1983
For more information on Neil Welliver’s (1929-2005) work, please visit wikipainitngs
I first came across Neil Welliver’s paintings in two books I’d purchased, Paintings of Maine, and Paintings of Maine: a new collection, by Carl Little, just before I went to Maine last summer for my second painting trip there in recent years. I’d been to Monhegan Island to paint several summers in a row back in the 80’s while I was in college.
That’s me painting on Monhegan Island in 1983, working in watercolor. I think I may be looking down on Pebble Beach….but I digress. Welliver’s work caught my eye in the books but not enough for me to do any further investigating. Somehow recently, as I was surfing around the web I came across Welliver’s work again. This time it resonated deeply with me perhaps because I was now ready to turn the page on my tonalist style and begin a new chapter as a contemporary realist.
Welliver paints Maine, and that is my greatest source of inspiration right now. Welliver’s work has a tremendous sense of color and value relationship, as well as balancing simplicity and complexity as if on the edge of a knife. His work is highly sophisticated, and while staying firmly in the realist tradition it rightly earns its moniker of contemporary. Every one of those characteristics is something I would like to incorporate into my own work, including a more contemporary interpretation of the landscape. Quite a change from the work I’ve been doing for the last four and a half years which was heavily influenced by the work of the nineteenth century landscape painters.
Welliver also has a keen eye for design and composition. His painting above with it’s dramatic point of view intrigued me, partly because I had taken a series of photographs in Maine using just such a point of view. Seeing Welliver’s work inspired me to tackle a similar piece. Welliver worked on location making studies that were 24 x24, and then in the studio they became massive works, like the one above, which is eight feet by eight feet!
I’m not quite ready to go that big but I am going to make my next painting larger than what I am accustomed to working. I have decided to use a near square canvas that is 30×36.
Growth and Change
I’m very excited about this time of growth and change. Exploring new modes of expression and new ways of working is bringing out the best I have to offer artistically. I’ve now completed four pieces in my new contemporary realist style and I think they are the best works of my career to date.
An Opportunity to View My New Work
If you live in or near Connecticut and are curious to see my new works you have two opportunities. This Sunday, Feb. 10th the Opening Reception of the 69th Connecticut Artists Exhibit will be in full swing from 1-3pm at the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, CT. My new painting Schoodic, Low Tide is in the exhibit. Then on Friday, Feb. 15th there will be an opening at Six Summit Gallery in Ivoryton, CT at 6pm. I have five plein air paintings in the current Salon Show, but just for that evening I will be there with one of my brand new paintings, Incoming Tide, Schoodic. The other members of my art syndicate , Roxanne Steed, Claudia Post and Joan Cole, will also be there with new works for you to view. I’d love to chat with you at either of these upcoming events!