Looking, Always Looking: Finding Inspiration as the Season Changes

March 11, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Spring is a really inspiring time of year. Not to say it’s more inspiring than say, Autumn when here in the Northeast the land puts on a dramatic show of warm colors, but Spring is pretty amazing. Autumn has a tendency to sneak up on you, and in terms of its pinnacle we could all be thwarted in our enjoyment of it by a single rainy weekend.

Neil Welliver, "Illusory Flowage," 1996. One of Welliver's classic landscape scenes showing intense detail and a intimate understanding of water reflections.Neil Welliver, "Illusory Flowage," 1996.One of Welliver's classic landscape scenes showing intense detail and a intimate understanding of water reflections.

 

Spring is a little more subtle and flirtatious. There might be a forty-five degree day in March that uncovers a patch of bare ground, but it could snow again the next day. You wait expectantly for the first bulbs to send a spike of green up, only to watch them sit there for weeks looking like witches buried upright.

 

So in the absence of a really neon green, electric chartreuse, blindingly yellow freak show of vernal exuberance outside, I look at the work of other artists. I do this during the rest of year too, but more in Spring in anticipation of the return of color other than brown and white.

 

 

Lawren Harris, "Algonquin Birches," 1914. Harris' dark underpainting defines the shapes and lends a strong counterpoint to the brightly lit birch trees.Lawren Harris, "Algonquin Birches," 1914.Harris' dark underpainting defines the shapes and lends a strong counterpoint to the brightly lit birch trees.

I tend to be drawn to a certain quality of line in paintings. For example, I’m entranced by Neil Welliver’s intensely detailed landscapes with their sharply delineated shapes and high contrast. I love the illustrative quality of his work and his sense of composition. His colors, too, are magnificent. There’s shade of dusky green that he uses that makes me think of deep forests and moss.

 

There are the adamant ‘line’ painters that inspire, too. Lawren Harris (1885-1970) and many of the other Group of Seven painters from Canada make great studies when it comes to bright, celebratory landscapes with that elusive outline effect.

 

This season has a light that is surprising. The paleness of new leaves makes it glow more brightly under strong sunlight. There are plenty of contemporary and historical artists to look to in working toward this effect. This river scene by Albert Marquet (1875-1947) shows you just what I mean.

Albert Marquet, "River Scene," undated. Marquet's loose yet carefully conceived layering from deepest darks to palest hues gives his trees soft roundness in this lovely water scene.Albert Marquet, "River Scene," undated.Marquet's loose yet carefully conceived layering from deepest darks to palest hues gives his trees soft roundness in this lovely water scene.

 

It makes me want spring to hurry along though I know it can’t be done. It’s almost time to be outside in the springtime warmth, but for now there are a few more blue shadows on snow to observe.

 

 


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