Ray Curran knows the Hudson River extremely well—he served as senior planner for the land trust Scenic Hudson before retiring in 2009. Now a full-time watercolor artist, Curran paints scenes along the Hudson that epitomize the river’s nature.
A selection of 20 paintings by Curran are on view at the Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, in Kingston, New York, through December. Curran does plein air studies on site, then works on larger pieces in the studio based on the studies and his own reference photos. Did we mention that he does a lot of his preparatory work from a kayak?
The larger studio watercolor based on Curran’s plein air painting of the Lower Hudson.
“Plein air is my favorite way of painting, but of course, it is a fair weather thing and as such limited to summertime for me,” says Curran. “My use of it has been essentially for quick studies (half hour per piece) and also as a way of loosening up my style. This summer, however, I ended the season by purchasing a good easel for watercolor painting and I started doing larger finished paintings. I liked it a lot and it is likely that I will be expanding that practice in the coming summer or if I travel to warm countries in the winter.”
A photograph of the scene depicted.
The kayak is primarily tapped for sketches and photos, but Curran admits the vantage points offered by a vessel are tempting. “Plein air in a kayak is really too problematic to become a practice, but I can envision painting in a larger (steadier) boat in the future, perhaps even running workshops on a much larger boat,” he says.