Brian Keeler knew what he wanted to paint when he set out with his easel one day this summer in Acadia National Park in Maine. Read how he approached this composition.
Lead Image: “Acadian Light at Outer Point,” by Brian Keeler, 2015, oil on plywood, 24 x 26 in. Collection the artist
“I had something in mind when I went there,” says Keeler. “I was looking for that type of lighting, and I’d been there before and I knew it was there.”
The golden light was bewitching. And the backlit trees, with their distinctive silhouettes, were an even bigger draw. “I wanted to bring out the effects of light,” Keeler recalls. “That was my main focus that day. I wanted to show the silhouetted trees, and how the strong light diffuses the form, the way the light permeates the forms there. It was rather challenging because the light was so strong and I was looking right into it. It was hard to see some of the tree’s silhouettes clearly. So I did what I could and put more of the details in later with photo reference.” Keeler says he enjoys painting en plein air “for the essence of the scene.” He adds, “I make the main creative decisions there on the spot. It’s a very enjoyable and fun process.” But he will often finish pieces in the studio.
When it came to the three figures in the lower left, Keeler thought about how George Inness handled the subject. “On location, I just put slashes and dots to indicate the three figures. I love the work of George Inness, and he’s even more suggestive of the figures. With just dashes — flecks of the brush — his suggestions of figures are so beautiful. In this case, they indicate some scale, and I like the position of them, too. They happened to be there in the right spot, serendipitously, that day. The fleck of a sailboat above them also indicates the spatial relationships and depth of the scene.”