Joshua Cunningham, “Silvery Sunrise,” 2017, oil on mounted linen, 8 x 10 inches

The remarkably talented painter Joshua Cunningham is presenting his newest series of plein air works, titled “Driftless,” at Minneapolis’ Groveland Gallery. What’s the story behind the works? Find out here.

Award-winning painter Joshua Cunningham, along with Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Groveland Gallery, on December 2 opened “Driftless,” a solo exhibition of gorgeous plein air paintings. On view through January 13, this series of works was created in and around the Driftless Area of southeastern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin, “and a bit of northeastern Iowa,” as the artist says. “This is an older world, as it was before the glaciers ground down and filled in the landscape. It is driftless, in every sense of the definition. It is without the soil and stone pushed along by the glaciers. It is a Midwestern time capsule. These paintings are not unlike the fossils I find along a creek bed. They are a record.”

Joshua Cunningham, “After Sunset,” 2017, oil on mounted linen, 9 x 12 inches
Joshua Cunningham, “Beyond the Barn,” 2017, oil on mounted linen, 9 x 12 inches
Joshua Cunningham, “Beyond the Barn,” 2017, oil on mounted linen, 9 x 12 inches

While they certainly record a beautiful region of the Midwest, the works aren’t without Cunningham’s brilliant creative touch and skillful use of color. For example, “Silvery Sunrise, Cunningham” captures the day’s first light with great sensitivity. As the painting’s title suggests, a silvery haze begins to lift over a quiet field with barns in the distance. From the picture’s top, a smooth pastel blue fades into the warm pinks and oranges of a waking sun. The feathery brushwork is noteworthy as well, activating the surface of the work and creating movement.

Joshua Cunningham, “Fountain City Sunset,” 2017, oil on mounted linen, 12 x 16 inches
Joshua Cunningham, “Spring’s Around the Bend,” 2017, oil on mounted linen, 9 x 12 inches
Joshua Cunningham, “Stirring the Stream,” 2017, oil on mounted linen, 8 x 10 inches
Joshua Cunningham, “Trimbelle Bending,” 2017, oil on mounted linen, 8 x 10 inches

“As I wander the landscape, around every curve, around the next bend, or over a hill, there might be a painting waiting,” says Cunningham. “Most days, I don’t know where I am going, but I do know I will get there, and once there, it feels right where I am supposed to be. When I wind through a valley and have my breath taken away by the view from a bluff top, it is an experience that takes me out of my busy life and holds all of my attention. I set up the easel, put out the paint, select a canvas, close my eyes to see what I remember, breathe deep, open them, and set to work.”

To learn more, visit Groveland Gallery.

This article was featured in PleinAir Today, a weekly e-newsletter from PleinAir magazine. To start receiving PleinAir Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster
Andrew, who worked for Streamline Publishing as an editor and more, graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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