Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Summer's Colors

Greens Served Seven Ways

One must suppose that most landscape painters like the color green. Or at least they don't hate it.

Today I'm posting 'green' paintings, some by familiar names and some by people you've probably never encountered before. The purpose is two-fold. First, as always, to introduce you to painters whose work you may want to know. Secondly, I want you to get in the habit of looking in unexpected places for technical cues and color and compositional ideas. Often we find an artist who has failed to make history's cut, perhaps born at the wrong moment, who nonetheless has a lot to teach us.
And, of course, we never go amiss in consulting the titans.

The first one today, Walter Clark (1848-1917), is certainly not a household name.  I have some issues with this painting, but I so enjoy his choice of composition, an unexpected plunging into the landscape, that I'm happy to forgive him some minor faults.

9x12.25", Charleston Renaissance Gallery

Frank Bicknell (1866-1943) was a member of the Lyme art colony. He's not much of a household name either. I include him to show you how a painting can be both blue-green and yellow-green at the same time.

William Langson Lathrop (1859-1938) is a favorite artist of mine. He's a fellow who is now getting more recognition. This painting, not a typical Lathrop, was painted when he was thirty years-old. It's rather odd, but it has a lot to say about green.

Hawthorne Fine Art Gallery

One of George Inness's great paintings, Summer, Montclair, has recently been given by Frank and Katharine Martucci to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. And it's certainly green.

Below: Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), Avenue of Chestnut Trees near La-Celle-Saint-Cloud, 1867.

And here's Monet's The Bas-Breau Road, Fontainebleau.

And Fontainebleau, the Bas-Breau Road by Corot:

The green time will soon be upon us, here in New England. Already there's a haze of cinnabar green in the trees.  

So take a moment to think about the myriad greens at your disposal, remembering that the green of April is not the green of July.


  1. Monet's "The Bas-Breau Road, Fontainebleu" amazed me when I discovered it at the Musee d'Orsay - I did not recognize it as a Monet, as its not his signature style, but it certainly shows he knew his craft. It has become one of my favorite paintings. Many of these here are new to me- all are inspiring.
    The landscape here ( in NH) is still far from green ( and 38 degrees today) but buds are swelling...

  2. I love the Bicknell. I hadn't realized it before, but I think it's that combination of yellow-greens and blue-greens in the same scene that makes it yell 'Spring'. I notice that particular mix only at this time of year. Later in full Spring there will be much more blue and, then, toward the end of Summer, things shift toward yellows and browns. Yet another lesson learned ...though certainly not mastered.

  3. The Monet is lovely. Seems to me that one of his strengths is his "justesse" - he often gets a slightly extraordinary but exactly right "concept/view". He would have won plein air paintouts hands down, hang on, wait a minute...

    Hmm, the Sisley is quite a revelation tho! (and I've always like him)