A few years ago, Meredith Nemirov sketched aspens until they began to dissolve — or resolve themselves — into abstract shapes. Now, the artist can move back and forth between abstract painting and representational, plein air work with ease. The plein air side of her process is on view now through the end of October at Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery in Telluride, Colorado.
The artist says plein air painting is taxing because of the concentration it demands. “Outside you have to be so present every moment, every brushstroke,” says Nemirov. “It’s a very different and intense experience.” She also says the decidedly organic, irregular look of the natural landscape is a challenge: “In my abstract work, I’m painting in lines, and the more abstract elements are precise. I’m not a gestural painter, so I get into the design and color and line.”
“3/22/06,” by Meredith Nemirov, watercolor, 11 x 11 in.
If her plein air work seems to have a certain energy, it may be due to what she is thinking when she’s painting. “I think of the landscape in terms of verbs rather than adjectives,” she says. “A tree is not tall or dark, but having some kind of action. A tree is reaching up to the sky and the leaves are stretching out, and arcing down to the ground. That kind of movement in the landscape elements is also seen in the geological history of the area. Mountains push up out of the ground. And I admire Charles Burchfield; he painted wind a lot.”
“Fall Into Winter,” by Meredith Nemirov, charcoal, 11 x 11 in. An example of the artist abstracting aspens
Most of her shows are built on a theme, but the current collection on view at Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery is more of a snapshot of the artist this past year. “It’s just a collection of the recent paintings I thought were most successful,” says Nemirov. “There are quite a lot of water scenes. I love painting water because it’s moving.”