Wednesday, August 17, 2011

En Plein Air: Every Day Beauty. Jane Chapin @ Donna Gordon Gallery & Studio.

Jane Chapin with her work, "Three Canoes"

 Jane Chapin (at left) mostly paints outside, from life. She began doing this early in life, growing up in Pennsylvania, as she sketched and painted the landscape and people around her.  Jane told me that her work is really about the light,  that it is the deeper subject of her work. The attention paid to the quality and direction of light in her work is evident throughout the exhibit at Donna Gordon Gallery & Studio (DGGS).

The work is primarily divided into figures and landscapes, and they both consistently show sometimes subtle cultural artifacts that connect them to specific places and times. The style is Impressionistic, but far from slavish, more evolved and recontextualized into the present, with some elements of American Luminism, all individuated by the artist.

Jane Chapin, "Jewelry Seller"

Looking at "The Jewelry Seller", the play of light on the figure, between the direct light falling on the highlights on her hair, arms, jewelry and cloth. Then there's the softer secondary reflected light from the cloth bouncing onto the woman's face, filling in what would otherwise be in deep shadow. There's much more to this painting. We can tell from the jewelry that it is Southwestern. It is being shown on the sidewalk, at a temporary market. The seller is perhaps filled with anticipation, smiling as she sets up her goods. Note the level of attention paid to color in this work, which is somewhat more realistic than some of the others.

Jane Chapin, "Commerce Street".

 "Commerce Street" is an urban landscape that was painted en plein air. On site, outdoors. It is more Impressionistic than the figurative paintings, but the carefully modulated colors and awareness of light are there. There is a story behind this painting. As it was being painted, a man emerged from the structure, offering to repair the panel of corrugated metal that's partially pulled away from the side wall, and the artist asked him not to (as it is crucial to the composition, see the angle of the stop sign and how it counterweighs that of the sheet metal). When it was finished, it was shown the very next day, and local viewers pointed out that the building had been raided recently, and those inside arrested for running a meth lab!

Jane Chapin, "Afternoon at the Jerome"

Plein Air painting began in the 1850s. It increased in popularity twenty years later due to two innovations: One, the availability of pre-mixed paint in tubes, and two, the French box easel. Many famous artists, like Van Gogh, Renoir, Pisarro, Monet and many others often painted in this manner. Today, the tradition continues and is carried on by organizations like the Plein Air Painters of America, [Link] and their members. There are also local groups one can join to learn and paint in this way [Link].

Jane Chapin, "Three Canoes"

In 'Three Canoes", we see the landscape and the figure together. Both in an idyllic way. This is a very serene painting, and the landscape looks like it could be Florida. These are classically beautiful, benign, relaxing paintings.

Ms. Chapin has traveled widely, and made journeys to all fifty states in which she painted, and these works have been put into a book titled: " Land of The Free". This book is available here [Link]. Scroll down a little bit. There's at least one copy to look at over at DGGS. The proceeds go to the children and families of deceased Special Ops soldiers.

Congratulations to Jane Chapin and Donna Gordon for an idyllic show.

Every Day Beauty @ Donna Gordon Gallery & Studio - Jane Chapin in a solo show of her oil paintings. Donna Gordon Gallery, 625 Central Ave. St Petersburg. Opens Saturday, Aug 6th, 5:30 - 8:00 PM Saturday.  Runs through Oct 2nd.

 --- Luis

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