Galleries – Landscapes (Plein Air)

My first experience painting in plein air was when I was about 12 or 13 with my mentor, Alton S. Tobey. He had taken a group of his students to a pond in Larchmont, N.Y., near his studio, to paint out doors. It was a profound experience that has hooked me into landscape painting for my entire life. Though I don’t think of myself exclusively as a “Plein Air Painter”, (infact, as you can see from my work – I am not attached to any one genre, style or even medium) – I think of myself as an artist, a “spiritrealist”. Rather, I am committed to painting and creativity- in whatever manner the creative spirit moves me to express it. That said, I have been however, also committed to the expression of that creative spirit through painting the landscape. I have throughout my career continually focused on the landscape, painting both in plein air, (on location) and in the studio. Nature has played a key role in my life as teacher, healer and guide, her powers and grounding energy nourishing my growth. Thus, the Landscape has been the source of much of my inspiration, it’s archetypal imagery a universal language.

As you can probably discern and as I always tell my students, I have no hard and fast “rules for painting” -in plein air or otherwise. I always have said, “In art there are no rules and no mistakes, only opportunities for growth and change”. Sometimes my painting in plein air is restricted too 2 or 3 hours or so in one spot. Whether this is self imposed or due to the location or particularly if it is in a Plein – Air Paint Out or competition. These works are marked below as “plein air”, such as the works: “Storm Moving In On Boston”, (View from Forbes House Museum) , painted in the morning and then, “Forbes House Museum”, painted in the afternoon. There are also works painted over the most of one day, (“View of Hudson from Mill Street Loft”), or two or more consecutive days, (“The American Falls”, “Looking into the Falls”) or even a week or more returning to the same spot at the same time of day, (View up River, the Boca). Some of these also may include some glazing and retouching in the studio or additional time, (up to 20%), spent on details etc, and these would be marked, “plein air and the studio”, such is the case with, “From the Summit, View South”, in which I returned to the mountain top for 4 hours every morning for about 2 weeks, till the days became misty, then completed the work in the studio. In a few other instances, like “Standing on Fossils”, the work was simply Sketched on the canvas in the field, then completed in the studio.

I often explain to my students a simplification of 3 ways of approaching the landscape. The “traditional” way in the West is, we carry our studio into the field, sit by the mountain and the river/waterfall and paint what we see and experience. In the East, the artist would hike into the mountains, sit by the river/waterfall, meditate there, absorb the energy of the place, then return to the studio and create the painting identically. The third method, my preferred approach, is a combination of both. To me what is important is not to produce a photographic representation or even a likeness of a particular place, (although this often occurs). What is important is to convey the energy of a place and my experience of it, my sense of “sacred” connection, the experience of ‘Oneness with the Universe”, coming to the place where I AM pure awareness, that I often experience when I am in nature and/or in the process of creating art. If I can transfer that energy and experience into my canvas and then allow you to have a similar experience through the “energy field” of my canvas -then I feel I have been successful.