by Bob Bahr, Editor PleinAir Today
Josh Adam is currently in Bermuda creating paintings for a show opening in March 2017. Sounds like a dream gig, no? Not entirely.
Adam and his wife, Susan Parish Adam, will attest to Bermuda’s beauty and to its very friendly people. They acknowledge that they are lucky to be preparing for a show — one that will likely generate considerable sales. Still, Josh feels compelled to share the complete picture of plein air painting in the British territory, located in the Caribbean Sea.
“Bermuda has been a fairly popular plein air site due to its proximity to the East Coast, and the fame of three American visitors in particular. Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and Georgia O’Keeffe have made artists aware of it as a destination,” Adam says. “But I would say that though beautiful, it’s not the ideal place for a plein air trip, for several reasons. Foremost is that as a visiting tourist, you can’t rent a car here. Narrow roads, density, and many accidents have evidently led to this policy. So you can walk from where you are staying, take a bus, rent a scooter, or hire a taxi — none ideal for the plein air painter.
“Second, it’s a very expensive place to eat, stay, etc. Bermuda is not a bargain island. Additionally, there’s not much public land for the painter/explorer. So, yes, there are some negatives, but the weather is very fine, the flowers and blue water are beautiful, and Bermuda’s friendly people make up for all that.”
This is the Adamses’ second show at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art; the two were featured at the museum previously as part of the Masterworks’ artist-in-residence program. That residency program is on hiatus, but the museum wanted the couple back anyway. “We got this show at the Masterworks Museum here by having previously been artists-in-residence in 2014,” Josh explains. “Their program was an especially nice one in that they housed you in a Bermuda National Trust apartment, but even better, gave their artist-in-residence a show toward the end of their stay, in a large gallery in the museum. Our show did well in 2014 and made them a good amount of money — they take a typical 50 percent commission. So they gave us another show.”
This time they are on their own, however. “This whole plan might be impossible without a free place to stay, as the artist-in-residency apartment is gone too, along with the program,” he says. “As luck would have it, a family member has a house here now that is rarely occupied, and well situated.”
Adam has painted objects on a table or railing with vast vistas behind them in other locales. He is playing with that combination of still life and landscape subject matter in his work in Bermuda. “The gallery space at the museum is quite large, so my wife and I decided large canvases are the way to go,” he says. “It’s too big a space for my normally modest-sized plein airs, though I will have a few, to have a diversity of price points. I am trying something new with large-scale flower still lives outside, with water through and behind the scene. After all, flowers and blue water are the best of Bermuda.”
Plein air painting in Bermuda still sounds great, doesn’t it? Final advice from Adam: “For practical tips, there is a very good art supply store in Hamilton, for things too bulky to bring, like canvases. Luckily, we were able to bring our paint and borrow easels. I was glad I brought cobalt turquoise light — what I also call swimming pool blue — as the ocean water here was untranslatable with my usual palette.”