I trust that the artists, as well as Noel Coward fans, will forgive my literary theft above. Of course these four lads: Cliff Turner, John Pottle, Glenn Hall and Peter Salmon are not truly mad, but it is fair to say they have pushed themselves beyond the norm, that is their normal practice. They have gone out under the hot summer sun in order to create paintings following the tradition of painting en plein air.
Glenn Hall pointed out to me that painting en plein, that is creating a painting on location, as opposed to working within the confines of the studio, “in order to achieve a deeper, and perhaps more subtle truth – what it feels like to be in a certain time and place”, is quite an old tradition. It was well used by the impressionist painters “to capture something of a mood and of the shifting light.” I should point out that of the four, Glenn Hall is the most accustomed to this practice, having created many fine paintings though this approach over the years. While this exercise may not be as much outside his comfort zone as it might be for the others, I am certain that Glenn, the fine professional artist that he is, will push himself in other ways to produce some fine paintings for the next showing at the Peter Buckland Gallery
Our next showing, Alla Prima, with Turner, Pottle, Hall and Salmon, will actually be the last formal exhibition for the Peter Buckland Gallery, as we will be moving our location and changing our name to Buckland Merrifield this fall. I feel it will be a good show to go out on, as I look forward to the results of this summer project that has seen four fine painters travel to various locations in southern New Brunswick to capture something of the immediacy of time and place on canvas.
I have had an opportunity to talk to each of these painters about their experiences with this project. Peter Salmon discussed how different it has been for him to paint this way.
“Cliff said it best while we were painting in St. Martins. He said that this is the best thing anyone could do. I agree. The sun was out, it was warm, a few people were about and we were painting.”
Peter did add that the exercise was not without its considerable challenges.
“I’m used to painting in stages, usually 5 or 6, with days, weeks or months in between. Painting like this forces me to get it down quickly.”
John Pottle, like Peter Salmon, is used to studio work. He discussed his experience.
“Over the winter, photos have been my source of inspiration as the paint and I attempt to capture moments in the natural world. A recent work is nearing completion after almost six months, so crafting a piece in the fresh air in less than five hours is really refreshing.
This series has challenged me to recognize when my paint application is in the fussy zone, and it’s been a great opportunity to be more expressive with the brushwork.”
John talked about the other benefits that, for him, have occurred as a result of this project.
“It’s been educational working beside other painters and witnessing how they can observe and render the same patch of the earth, yet everyone’s results are so dissimilar in terms of the fundamentals (composition, colour choices, and brush technique). Another bonus is being out in some stunning corners of this sometimes overlooked province.”
His final note.
“Four hours can pass in a heartbeat, measured only by the steady series of horsefly bites.”
Cliff Turner also talked about the challenges for a studio painter who suddenly finds himself out in the open air with paint and canvas.
“the immediacy….in a very short time, using limited tools, you have to articulate a connection to what you are seeing . . . for John, Peter and myself, it has been so unlike what we do in the studio, the close examination of our source material and hours rendering it, has been stripped down to what is essential.”
He feels that he had to make several adjustments to accommodate this project.
” I started hard… too detailed…. too big! the 12×16 canvases, which I viewed as small, were much better on 8×10 masonite….Glenn said this over and over and it finally sunk in!”
With just two weeks to go, we await the finished products; these varied paintings depicting many locations: Hatfield Point, the Wickham grave yard, Duck Pond, Grand Bay, Nerepis Marsh, Westfield Ferry, Kennebecasis Island, Public Landing, St. Martins . . .
All Prima will be our exhibition feature for the summer gallery hop on August 21. Don’t miss a great show by four very good painters at our Duke St. location. Don’t miss this final show for the Peter Buckland Gallery.