Painting outdoors -
"Still Waters" by Joe Gyurcsak

On Painting a Landscape > Still Waters in a Time of Crisis


During the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I began to slow down and work on a protracted painting project; as Resident Artist for Blick Art Materials all of my events and travel plans were suddenly cancelled. Suddenly, the window of time for me to work on a concentrated painting in a much larger scale was a real possibility. The normal pressure to get things done completely evaporated, leaving a pocket of complete isolation and stillness in my studio. The outside world suddenly shutdown and was eerily quite. I invited that calm in a positive way for an opportunity to subtract much of myself from the news after I understood what was happening.

I did a small study last year for the painting I was envisioning and loved the feeling of it and the location. The original study was done of a small stream in West Windsor, NJ. The original location was at the Bridge Groom Run where a wonderful wooded area in the middle of the summer spoke to me.

The new painting, entitled “Still Waters,” aimed to capture the thick, humid summer air, and evoke a sense of quite stillness in the atmosphere along the stream. I was able to work on this painting for 10 sessions; it is very unusual for me to have such a bank of time to focus on a multiple-layer oil painting. I began to slowly build the history of my visual story. I contemplated each visual layer as writing a chapter to a book, watching the birth of this painting come to life.

In this particular painting I tried to combine two different painting approaches – a tonalism and an impressionistic style – into the same work of art.

During these times of such uncertainty this painting was a welcomed project! It brought me such peace and helped me to refocus on something that I could have control over. The final painting has a serene and subdued palette of color, which may have been a sub-conscious decision about the state of current matters in the world, or maybe a cathartic passage of time that helped this artist shelter the storm. It is my hope that when I do exhibit the painting that it will visually move others in a calming and peaceful manner.

Listen to PleinAir Podcast Episode 110: Joe Gyurcsak on Approaching Art Galleries and More >

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  1. Please help. I thought I downloaded the 240 tips for painters, but it didn’t save. I need it desperately. Mina Harper

    • Hi Mina! We can help you with that – I’ve reached out to our customer service team, and someone will be in touch with you soon. Thank you for letting us know, and welcome to the Plein Air community! 🙂

  2. Beautiful painting & enjoy your description of the process. I recently went into a similar mode returning to my painting multiple times as I painted our blooming oceanfront balcony rose bush. For some reason I decided to give this Charlie Brown $3 miracle surviving the Florida heat and salt air more time and attention than my usual plein air flurry. I didn’t have a specific goal for my painting but the Covid lockdown offered an unusual sense of unlimited time and openness. The resulting painting is more ‘considered’ than my usual style so I decided to paint a second version alla prima. And, as the rose bush keeps blooming & I keep watching, I probably paint a third and fourth. There’s something unconscious going on with all of this & I’m enjoying a different painting experience all due to our Covid lockdown. Thanks for this opportunity to share & please stay safe & well!


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