Showing posts with label Fran Larsen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fran Larsen. Show all posts

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Painter’s Emotional Lens

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

We often think of landscape paintings as representational art. But, in fact, many artists are so inspired by the landscape they are experiencing, they prefer to convey these scenes through the lens of their emotions.

I recently attended a lecture by a docent from the Phoenix Art Museum about the Hudson River School. These American painters of the 19th century hiked in uncharted territory of upstate New York, in awe of the wilderness around them. They sketched and wrote their memories on site; then created paintings in their studios that we would call realistic, but which conveyed their fascination with and love of nature.

Dawn Mountain Glow
Fran Larsen
Today, some contemporary painters express their reactions to a landscape in a different way. They choose to ignore local color and instead, use hues that convey their emotions rather than describe what they see. Others prefer to express themselves with more stylized, abstract versions of physical realities. To explore these different concepts of landscape painting, I called two artists from Wilde Meyer whose work I admire.

When she moved to Santa Fe, Fran Larsen was thrilled by the wonderful light there, the amazing landscape and the interesting cultures of its residents. Fran says that her paintings are metaphors of her reaction to these unique New Mexican characteristics.

“I’m inspired by the way the environment here makes me feel,” she says. “Because of the intense light, I see color in entirely different ways. Once color becomes arbitrary – rather than local – shapes can be arbitrary as well.”

Hidden in the Mountains
Fran Larsen
Inspiration for her painting entitled “Dawn Mountain Glow” came as Fran was looking out her window at the canyon below her house. She painted the arroyo that runs through the canyon – a technique she often employs. “Roads and rivers are entry points that take us into things, and I believe that each painting is an exploration for me and the viewer,” she says. As you can see, Fran’s choice of colors is personal, and doesn’t reference the local scene. I sense that her emotional lens was a joyful one – the vivid colors in the canyon and the sky make the painting energetic and pleasing.

Fran departs from realism in other ways. In her painting entitled “Hidden in the Mountains,” she makes no attempt to portray a three-dimensional depth of field. “This painting is about a landscape, but my interest here is design and the use of flat space – a more cubist approach,” she says. Fran explains that she contrasts light and dark areas, using hues that vary in intensity, to give the painting a “feeling of push and pull.” She uses small dots to enliven the shapes and add texture.

There is another unique element in Fran’s paintings – the frames themselves. She designs, constructs and paints each frame to complement the painting. “The frame reasserts that the painting is an object, as opposed to a representation,” she says.


Sunlit Canyon
Sushe Felix
Sushe Felix lives in Colorado. Her southwest landscapes have a distinctive style, which she claims is derived from her interest in American abstract painters from the 1930’s and 40s, as well as the modernist movement. “In particular, I’ve been influenced by Raymond Jonson, who led the Transcendental Painting Group in Santa Fe,” Sushe explained.

Late Night Reflection
Sushe Felix
I looked up the group on Google, and found that the aim of the Transcendental Painting Group was "to defend, validate and promote abstract art. They sought to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new expressions of space, color, light and design."

Thomas Hart Benton, who was at the forefront of the Regionalist movement, also influenced Sushe, as did the southwest regionalist painters, who took the local landscape and abstracted it. Sushe does that in her own way, with a strong focus on forms, shapes and color. You can see her unique style in two of her paintings, entitled “Sunlit Canyon” and “Late Night Reflection.” She likes to define the shapes of the mountains and sky with sharp edges, but contrasts that with soft shapes inside the borders. When I asked her how she created the delicate areas of clouds, mountains and trees, she said that she uses old brushes to scrub acrylic paint on her canvas to create a pastel-like effect. “I studied pastel in college, so I know how to blend very well,” she says.

Sushe often includes depictions of wildlife in her paintings. Here, her love of animals lead her to create endearing “critters” with round eyes – as you can see in two beautiful paintings entitled “Nest of Blooms.” and “Full Brood.”


Full Brood
Sushe Felix
Nest of Blooms
Sushe Felix


Many people want a point of reference when they look at a painting. But more importantly, a painting should reflect the artist’s vision – seen through his or her emotional lens.

View more art by Fran Larsen and Sushe Felix at Wilde Meyer Gallery.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Landscape: A Personal Vision



I just returned from a wonderful trip to Santa Fe. I was struck by the stark beauty of this area, and how much sky one sees there. At times, the sky takes over nearly the entire field of vision, and the ground is just a small sliver underneath. Just driving there on 1-40, I noticed how the very low horizon changed my perception. I felt surrounded by the large, billowy clouds. That’s an idea I’ll pursue in another post.


It’s easy to understand why so many artists who live in Santa Fe choose to paint landscapes. Albert Scharf and Fran Larsen exhibit their work at Wilde Meyer. Both interpret the landscape differently.

Landscape #616 oil on canvas 40"x30"
by Albert Scharf

Looking at Albert Scharf’s beautiful cloud paintings, you can really sense the vastness of the sky I was feeling myself. When I spoke with him, he said that he finds that clouds are an interesting subject because of what they do to the light, and since they have abstract shapes, he’s not bound by form or structure.

“Clouds have an amorphic shape that enable me to pursue my interest in the emotional content of color,” he said. “Also, the manipulation of their hard and soft edges gives great energy to the paintings.”

High Desert Mountains 30"x30"
oil on canvas by Albert Scharf
At first, Albert just painted clouds, but he then decided to add the thin slice of land below as a counter balance which, he noted, makes the sky look even larger. This is the effect of the low horizon that intrigues me. You can see how this happens in Albert’s painting entitled “Landscape 616.” (Yes, he numbers his paintings and has done nearly 800.) In “High Desert Mountains,” he has increased the size of the ground and given it texture with a palette knife, which gives the painting a completely different look.

Landscape 576 oil on canvas 48"x60"
by Albert Scharf
Although he has seen many beautiful Santa Fe skies in the 30 years he has lived there, Albert does not use local color; rather he prefers to present his ”skyscapes” in saturated hues that transcend through the conscious into the subconscious. “I want to take my viewers to a place where they feel good,” he said. A great example of his wonderful use of color can be seen in “Landscape #576.”


Companion Paintings 24"x96" (diptych)
by Albert Scharf
Lately, Albert has created several “companion paintings,” which involve two or more pieces that have similar landscapes, but one is in warm tones and the other cool. When hung together, they look like reflections of each other.



Although Fran Larsen has lived in Santa Fe for many years, she grew up in Michigan, where she spent time with her uncle, who was a glacial geologist. “We talked quite a bit about geology and the anthropology of the old tribes who lived in the areas we visited,” she said.

South from Beyond  28"x60"
by Fran Larsen

When she moved to New Mexico, she was thrilled by the wonderful light there, the amazing geologic forces that created the landscape and the interesting cultures of its residents. Fran says that her paintings are metaphors of her reaction to these unique New Mexican characteristics.

Dawn Passage 13.5"x13.5" by Fran Larsen
“I am inspired by the way the environment makes me feel,” she says. “Because of the intense light here, I see color in entirely different ways than I did in Michigan. Once color becomes arbitrary – rather than local – shapes can be arbitrary as well.” As you can see in “Dawn Passage,” Fran picks her own colors for the mountains, sky and houses, and creates a more stylized vision of the landscape.

Like Albert Scharf, Fran Larsen paints her personal experience, rather than an actual depiction of what she sees. She prefers to paint her reactions to a scene – “what it creates in me” – which helps her remove the “horse blinders that make us see things so literally.” Many of her paintings feature a road that winds through the mountains - - such as “Take the High Road” and “Deep in the Canyon.” Perhaps that symbolizes the journey that she has taken with her art in Santa Fe.

Take the High Road 24" x 28"
by Fran Larsen

Deep in the Canyon 22" x 26"
by Fran Larsen
 
There is another unique element in Fran’s paintings – the frames themselves. She designs, constructs and paints each frame to complement the painting. “The frame reasserts that the painting is an object as opposed to a representation,” she says.
 

Early Dawn, Arroyo and Mesa 38" x 22"
by Fran Larsen



Friday, May 13, 2011

Rooms with a View

Cleo in the Garden Room  oil on canvas 36"x48"
by Judy Feldman
In the Red Room, (2007) 30"x30"
by Judy Feldman
I have always been attracted to scenes that include a window or patio – I love showing the foliage outside and contrasting the view with an interior setting. You can see this idea in my painting, “Cleo in the Garden Room."
Recently, I visited New York City to get my culture “fix.” I saw some wonderful museum exhibits, including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled “Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century.”

During the Romantic era, the open window appeared in many paintings of interiors. For the first time, the window is actually the focal point, often showing views from the artist’s studio. In addition to the effects of light on the interior room, you get the impression of a painting within a painting, as some of the window scenes are quite detailed.

Cleo and the Red Chair 36"x36"
by Judy Feldman
 This theme of rooms with a view has continued to attract many painters ever since. I’m thinking of the wonderful paintings of Matisse who used the theme of an open window throughout his long career. In Open Window, Collioure, (National Gallery of Art), he painted the view out the window of his apartment on the Southern coast of France. He used the theme of the open window in Paris and especially during the years in Nice, Grand Interieur (Art Institute of Chicago) and Etretat, and in his final years, particularly during the late 1940s.

Pierre Bonnard also painted from his home, favoring interior scenes of his family and daily life. In “The Green Blouse,” (Metropolitan Museum) the window is a prominent part of the background; in the “Dining Room Overlooking the Garden,” (MoMA) the view outside is even larger than the table setting inside.

 Here at Wilde Meyer, you can see several artists who have been influenced by this theme of Rooms with a View.
 
 
My Real Life Big Screen TV acrylic on panel  18" x 20"
by Lori Faye Bock

  Lori Faye Bock
In her painting entitled “My Real Life Big Screen TV,” Lori Faye Bock shows a fantasy view outside a dining room window. It’s very decorative – a painting within a painting.
Doesn't Get Much Better Than This!
acrylic on panel
by Lori Faye Bock

 
Breakfast on the Portal
acrylic on panel in handmade frame 22" x 26"
by Fran Larsen


Fran Larsen
The view of a large red mountain and lush foliage is the focal point of Fran Larsen’s “Breakfast on the Portal” painting. Her vivid colors take us outside, beyond the vignette of the purple chair and oddly sloped table.

Living Room, Our House
28"x32"
by Fran Larsen

 Mermaid reverse glass painting on reclaimed window 27" x 30"
by Melinda Curtin

Melinda Curtin takes the window theme to another level. She actually paints on vintage windows in a reverse glass process. The window frame becomes the painting frame, and sometimes she paints an additional frame inside, as in this image, “Mermaid.” 

Horse at Night 27"x30"
by Melinda Curtin
So the next time you see a beautiful scene outside a window, think of all the artists who have been inspired by this visual act to create some amazing works of art!