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Essay for the exhibit: FIVE who paint outside

A.P.E. Gallery 126 Main Street Northampton, MA

March 4 – 28, 2021

Painting outside can be a struggle, especially when compared to working in the comfort of a studio from photographs. Painting outside means wind, bugs, heat, cold, rain, snow, direct sun, and constantly moving shadows. Painting in public also means dealing with curious onlookers who are at best overly friendly, and at worst armchair art critics. It means first finding something that grabs your attention, then getting your stuff there, setting it all up, working for as long as you can, breaking it all down, packing it up, and then finally transporting a wet and fragile picture back to the studio. When it all comes together these efforts can combine to create an object that is fresh, and more than simply a painted image, a thing that not only transports us behind the eyes of the artist, but can validate our own experiences.

When working from observation an artist looks at something, it rolls around in their head for a bit, travels down their arm, through the hand, into the brush, and onto the surface, becoming an image distilled through their own particular physical and emotional alchemy. Even the most abstract of painters are essentially doing the same thing, except for the simultaneous looking. The five of us are realists, in that we have recognizable imagery in our work and we paint from observation. We are all experimental and conventional in different degrees, and we share the same impetus, painting outside while observing the world around us. I’ve assembled this group to showcase the differences and similarities in our work, which hopefully will magnify and enhance the experience of seeing what each of us create as individual artists.

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