Monday, October 30, 2017

Artists Versus the Landscape

I think I've mentioned that there are cases where the appearance of a landscape is so powerful that differences in artists' styles can get largely washed away. That is the case for many parts of California. Some artists currently active are making paintings that have their character similar to those of the California Impressionists of the early decades of the 20th century.

Then there are painters who impose their style on whatever landscape comes before them. This can be a bit difficult in a California environment, because California's visual character can get diminished in the process.

What got me to thinking about this again was a visit to Seattle's Woodside / Braseth Gallery where an opening party was being held for landscape artist Lisa Gilley. She represents the case of an artist imposing style upon subject matter. Her paintings are strongly done, oil-on-board. I note that the settings she chooses to depict have clear skies and little or no forestation. That is, even though she lives in western Washington, there was no painting showing lots of fir trees and gray, misty skies. Her style cannot easily accommodate that.


Franz Bischoff - Evening Glory: Santa Barbara Mountains
First, some examples of California Impressionism.

Edgar Payne - Canyon Mission Viejo, Capistrano
Payne's coloring is not quite the same as Bischoff's, but the influence of Southern California mountains strongly affects both works.

Edgar Payne - Sierra Lake and Peaks
Here Payne deals with the rugged part of the Sierras.

William Wendt - Where nature's God hath Wrought - 1925
Wendt's take on California mountains showing bare rock.

Now for some Lisa Gilley paintings. This one's subject is the Chugash Range in Alaska.

A Grand Canyon scene.

Joseph Canyon,in Oregon

Yakima River, in Washington. In all four cases, her landscapes seem more designed than depicted.

Gilley's paintings are somewhat in the spirit of Lawren Harris, leader of the Group of Seven painters in Canada. This is a painting of Mt. Lefroy (1930), one of many in which he imposed his own style and concepts on nature.

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