Many artists spend each day alone in their studio or in a natural setting, not so different than the lives some of us find ourselves leading today. The difference is that artists choose solitude and it’s not forced upon them by a pandemic.
For Neil Welliver, the solitude of the woods surrounding his home in Maine was the inspiration for the wonderful landscapes that he painted. Welliver’s early paintings, in the 1960s, often included a figure, but when he began creating studies of just the natural landscape, his works took on a more powerful and intense feel.
He would walk into the woods with a backpack that weighed about eighty pounds. He carried an easel, tubes of eight colors of paint, brushes, a can of turpentine, rags, water jugs, toilet tissue and binoculars. Welliver completed studies, like Bear Hole Runlet, in three-hour intervals, painting until the light changed. Each small study took about nine hours to complete.
Once a study was completed, Welliver would work on a large canvas, in his studio, for four to seven hours a day, painting from the upper left hand corner to the right bottom corner, until he was satisfied with the finished work.
Neil Welliver said that Alex Katz, who has a summer home in Maine, was one of the painters who had a profound influence on his work. Although Katz is probably best known for his figurative work, he has been painting landscapes since the start of his illustrious career.
At age 92, Katz still works seven days a week. He works out first thing in the morning and then goes in to his studio to paint. The Whitney Museum announced that it is planning a retrospective of Katz’s work for 2022.
Though he lived and worked in New York, Wolf Kahn painted the lush landscapes surrounding his home in Vermont.
He used rich colors to evoke a sense of vastness and solitude in the landscapes. During the latter part of his life, Kahn said that he suffered from macular degeneration, which enhanced his work by allowing him to focus on the big picture, rather than small details.
Wolf Kahn died last month, on March 15, at age 92, at his home in New York, of congestive heart failure.
One of the most interesting American twentieth century painters was Milton Avery, whose figurative and landscape paintings were as much about color and composition as they were about the subject.
In Man and Sea, Avery was able to create a feeling of solitude and serenity with his masterful use of watercolor.
Works of Solitude and Serenity at Surovek Gallery
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