William Baczek Fine Arts in Northampton, Massachusetts opens their Annual Landscape Exhibition tomorrow that includes four of my large oil paintings. I'm delighted with the selection of works William Baczek made for the show.
Above is my Deep Forest Pool, oil on panel, 32 x 40". It's a painting done entirely from my imagination.
Like most of my work it draws part of its inspiration from my youth. I spent hours tramping around with my friends in the heavily forested hills surronding my home along the south shore of Lake Ontario outside Rochester, NY. I remember in particular the striking whites of the birch trees and the swampy still ponds that lay in many of the valleys. To a kid it was the perfect invitation to come home with muddy wet shoes.
In this painting one of my challenges was to pull out just a few from the multitude of trees to play a starring role. In turn most of my highlights have had their intensity softly turned down to let the remaining forms play subordinate roles.
Below is The Voyage of Memory, oil on canvas, 38 x 38". While it was inspired partly by the famous 19th century painter Thomas Cole's series The Voyage of Life, my painting is highly autobiographical.
One of the wonderful things my father did before he died when I was 13 was to buy a small single sailed boat and teach me how to sail. I remember taking the boat out by myself the day he died in dangerously rough weather on Lake Ontario just to prove to myself that I could do it. I needed to reassure myself I was up for whatever lay ahead of me with him gone.
In the painting I've changed the setting, moving the "Voyage" to a narrow and somewhat perilous passage between steep cliffs. Some months after my father died that little sailboat was washed away in one of the heavy storms that would periodically sweep down from Canada. It miss it but remember it like yesterday. Vivid memory can make for great content in art.
Below is my oil The Red Whisper, oil on canvas, 30 x 40", that takes literally the advice the 19th century master artist Winslow Homer gave that "one should never paint a blue sky." He was on to something.
I had had a dream of an impossibly bright moon sending a shaft of light down and illuminating an island covered with sharply needled pines. The dream felt erie and strangely beautiful. The task of a painting is alter the way we feel. I wanted a vivid otherworldly mood and changed the usual indigo color of the night sky to a deep cherry red.
Here below is my largest piece in the Baczek show, The Song of All Days, oil on panel, 36 x 72". In someways this painting also stems from my old childhood home in the woods along the shore of one of the Great Lakes. It was a dense old growth forest that abruptly gave way to a wide open shoreline on Lake Ontario.
The two different spaces always seemed me out of balance and I wished there had been a string of islands dotting the waters. In the rough weather we often had up there forested islands would have offered protections from the wild north winds.
Years later when I discovered the island-dotted Maine coast I felt it was just the landscape I had longed for as a kid. And my painting is informed by my time there as well. To me Song of All Days is a celebration of what might be the perfect landscape. Who wouldn't want to go paddling here?
The show at William Baczek Fine Arts continues through October 5, 2013.