Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Plein Air Painters: A Tribute"

I'm now well in to a decade of photographing a hardy group of painters willing to conquer (or ignore)
the elements in order to capture the beauty of their world, not from a studio setting, but in nature with      all its challenges.  Cold, wind, sometimes even rain does little to dampen the spirit of this intrepid and dedicated group of artists.  Some of these works end up in Galleries nationwide, as well as being posted in their Outdoor Painters Society (OPS) newsletter in which I'm privileged to be a contributor.

To watch these artisans work, it's literally a mystery to most.  I know it is to me.  Starting with a blank canvas, they may cover  it with colorful washes of varying hues of red or brown or whatever background they feel will enhance the painting that will eventually emerge.  Part of their process is "blocking" their composition which can either be broad strokes of black or brown oil paint loosely laid out and connected, or more detailed renderings of what they'll eventually create.  Over the next hour (or hours) their own individual masterpieces begin to take shape and this is the stage that is oft times mind-boggling to the casual observer.

Adding color here, highlighting there, detailing or darkening and sometimes even smearing to soften their's all about using their hands, brushes or palette knife to maneuver a seemingly disorganized rainbow of  colors from pallete to canvas, until something magical happens.

An abandoned rusting tractor is resurrected into a thing of beauty by Randy Saffle.  A stand of aspens appears to have more brilliance than you'd even imagined because of Cecy Turner's talents.

The weathered face of an old man suddenly becomes unforgettable at the hands of John Cook.  The glow of street lights emits warmth as Jason Sacran captures a mountain village by moonlight.

Delicate berries spring to life, capturing your attention amidst bramble bushes when painted by
Ann Hardy.  And the names of these talented artists go on and on.  Jones. Lassiter. Gabriele. Longacre. Priest. Bohlman. Boren. Prikryl. Neumann. Devereaux. Kidwell. Cobb. Hubler.  Too numerous to mention all, but all with one thing in common:  they are to canvas what Copperfield
and Houdini have been to the stage...magicians!!!

If you want to experience the magic of plein air, mark April 11th on your calendar and make the effort to drop by Southwest Galleries in Far North Dallas where The Outdoor Painters Society will hold their annual exhibit.   Chances are, you'll be as much in awe by the talent as I continue to be even after nearly 10 years of photographically capturing this wonderful phenomenon.