I have had the pleasure of painting some remarkable landscapes in the recent past. I have selected examples from three of my favorites: Taos, New Mexico, the Texas Gulf Coast, and Cumbria, England, which was on the special occasion of our daughter's wedding.
Across the Channel. The location is Port Aransas. The subject called for great fluidity of paint and broad unifying strokes to animate the movement of water and sky. Large quantities of deep and rich blues were required, while the clouds must have a light and buoyant touch. Port Aransas has long been a recreational destination, and fishing spot, which I believe added to the painting's spirit.
Blue Skies 1 was painted in plein air in Taos. The 6" x 9" study was completed with unusual speed and ease. The entire scene, the sky, cloud, mountain, shadow, trees, adobe, ground, and even a distant adobe house were suddenly there. I was surprised with the study's vitality and unity, and I stopped painting. Blue Skies, the painting, is much like Irving Berlin's song of the same name, cheerful, and memorable.
Cumbria 12 was a painting of the view I saw from Muncaster Castle, which overlooks one of the most dramatic and cherished landscapes in England. Cumbria lies just below the Scottish border and is on the shore of the Irish Sea. The sweeping view moves from England's highest mountains through foothills, verdant valleys, and brilliant pastures until finally meeting the sea. I sought to emphasize the lateral movement, like a speeding train, with flashes of high intensity color of the pastures. It was a happy time.
The National Seashore on North Padre Island preserves the natural Gulf of Mexico shore, without distractions of vehicles, beach crowds, or man-made obstructions. One can feel the refreshing impact of the deep spatial progression to the horizon and beyond. The simplicity of three elements: sky, water and ground was a challenge. The sky was the largest area with scattered clouds, The sea was in motion with the sun's brilliant reflection on the water, to which I gave special attention. The ground served as the base.
Taos Valley 11. The remarkably clear sunlight of Taos creates powerful contrasts of light and shadow. Taos houses are modest in stature, easily blending with nature; however, there are moments when the contrast between organic and the geometric are most dynamic. I wanted to catch the severity of the edges of shapes in shadow playing against the light verdant hillside with a gentle blue sky and cloud.
Water's Edge 3. This painting landed at my feet. The location was the North Jetty at Port Aransas. A pod of dolphins were frolicking just a little off shore, and the waves were brilliant in their clarity and transparency. The sun's reflection was dazzling. I took a photograph, which captured the sense of movement and the many facets of the atmosphere of that moment. In the studio, small studies prepared me for this larger image. My strokes were guided by the agile nature of the wave's graceful flow. Intuition played an important role in the use of color. I give much credit to the dolphins.
I believe that each painting was greatly enhanced by substantial prior experiences. Note, these six works were done shortly before the Pandemic. I hope art and artists will come back strong when we are back and healthy.
Charles Field is represented by the Hunt Gallery in San Antonio. The photographer is Yolanda Sanjuan, also of the Hunt Gallery.