On Painting a Landscape > Still Waters in a Time of Crisis
BY JOE GYURCSAK
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 >