Willard Metcalf: Celebrating Light and Time

Willard Metcalf, The Golden Carnival, oil on canvas, Memorial
Art Gallery, Rochester, NY

I've learned the most about making paintings that celebrate intense sunlight from Edward Hopper (1882-1967), who had to have painted the brightest sunlight of any of the early 20 century American artists. But Hopper was picking up on a tradition of the light-loving Impressionist artists who'd gone down the path before him. 

Above is a landscape from my "first museum", Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery by my favorite of the American Impressionist painters, Willard Metcalf (1858-1925). It masterpiece of contrasting the warm ochres in the undulating hillside with the surprising cool blue-green hues in the water's reflections. It perfectly evokes the light of a late afternoon just as the sun begins to speed up its descent to the horizon. 

Metcalf, Winter Afternoon

Metcalf's penetrating eye absolutely nailed brilliant sunlight, painting it with a dazzling expressiveness and sensitivity to the time of day. In Winter Afternoon above he paints the midday winter sun crisply delineating everything and casting almost timidly short shadows.

Willard Metcalf, Thawing Brook, 1911

In Thawing Brook above Metcalf moves to later in the afternoon, with his foreground shadow stretching out its arm to touch from side-to-side of his canvas. The yellow greens he chooses for the stream couldn't be more different from his colors for the water in the first oil at the top of this post.  

In The Hills in February below he's moved on to the late afternoon, where the sunlight now hits only the hilltops. The family of red-violet and blue-violet hues in his the foreground trees strike an elegant shadowy presence.

Willard Metcalf, The Hills in February, oil on canvas, Arnot
Art Museum, Elmira, NY

The Arnot Art Museum contacted me this week to tell me they are organizing an exhibition 23 Pairs: Considering Compare and Contrast. 23 paintings from the Museum's collection will be hung with 23 works by contemporary artists. I am honored that they are requesting to include my painting Uncharted II below and pair it with their Metcalf The Hills in February. The show is scheduled to open February 17, 2017 during Arnot Art Museum's Valentines Gala and continue through August 12.

Philip Koch, Uncharted II, oil on canvas, 30 x 40", 2016


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