Jill Carver, "The Animas at Durango," 2020, oil, 24 x 60 in., Private collection, Studio from plein air studies

The following is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who is on the faculty of the 11th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo in The Great Smoky Mountains, May 20-24, 2024.

Then and Now: Making a Pure Record

by Jill Carver

It’s been a great 10+ years for me.

I gave up plein air competitions totally in 2010 and focused on just being the best painter I can be. I am honored to be represented by the Insight Gallery and the Medicine Man Gallery. Providing these galleries with my best work keeps me very busy. I have also had the pleasure of being involved with the Northwest Rendezvous Group and the Plein Air Painters of America. Certainly being around the caliber of those artists has been inspirational. But the most beneficial change for me has to be that I built a studio on the empty lots adjacent to our house a few years ago — it sure beats sharing space with the washing machine and dryer!

Finally, I have the room to work big. Creating large-scale pieces with the intention of giving the viewer the sense of being able to step into the landscape has always had appeal. Larger pieces require more “management,” so I’ve worked hard at clarifying concepts and using design fundamentals to create fully resolved paintings. Utilizing these aesthetic fundamentals also produces the creative “mind space” needed to adapt and manipulate reality into more expressive, poetic works.

Obviously, working large necessitates multiple sessions rather than one layer of direct wet-into-wet painting. In fact, some of these large pieces require a number of sessions over many weeks. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of figuring out both the constraints and the benefits of working wet-over-dry.

Jill Carver, “Canyonlands From Deadhorse Point,” 2020, oil, diptych, 30 x 30 in. panels, Private collection, Studio from plein air studies

Although plein air work and study direct from nature are still the sources for these pieces, for many years now my intention has been not to complete finished paintings in the field but rather to use outdoor painting as the source for gathering ideas and color notes. I stop as soon as the change in light affects my subject matter. Many of my field studies now look like a fractured raw mosaic of color note-taking, and there will often be a lot of blank canvas left. The intent is totally different; I just want to harvest as much information as I can and keep it as close to being a pure record of what I saw as possible.

Jill Carver, “Winter Color,” 2011, oil, 10 x 12 in., plein air

Join PleinAir Magazine in the Smokies for the 11th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo! May 20-24, 2024 we’ll have five stages with over 80 instructors, and will be painting throughout The Great Smoky Mountains, including the Biltmore Estate.


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