Today’s main feature in Inside Art is a guest article by artist contributor Rick Delanty. Rick won Best of Category in the International Plein Air Salon (entries still being accepted!) in November 2021. He is the author of Beauty Unites Us, Paintings and Inspiration by Rick J. Delantey of which this is an excerpt.
“Color is the language of the poets. It is astonishingly lovely. To speak it is a privilege.”
Painting still lifes affords an artist who regularly paints landscapes the opportunity to explore different color palettes, set up a model just the way he or she wants it —and continue to paint from life even in unsuitable weather conditions. Though I may paint flowers, or vases, or lemons, the subject of my still life paintings is not “those things”—the subject is color.
It’s that freedom with color that is so attractive to me, not only in still lifes, but in the appearance and painting of any subject. There are endless theories regarding light and the behavior and mixing of color, but after 40 years of painting it appears to me that color is largely intuitive.
Each artist that I admire seems to have a “color personality” that gives identity and consistency to their works. You could compare artists’ color choice to dialects in languages, or what one would call an “accent” that focuses the viewer on the place from which that artist comes.
Color has an effect on the viewer. The colors an artist chooses for a particular painting can evoke feelings of joy, sorrow, nostalgia, excitement—even boredom. And that is the challenge of handling color in a painting: bringing life to a subject that rests on a two-dimensional plane and doesn’t move.
Any time an artist wipes off his brush and applies a clean new color, a contrast will be created that will draw the viewer’s eye. Too many contrasts create busy-ness; too few a disinterest, or perhaps an intentionally-created placidness.
Choosing the right color that is the right shape, of the right consistency, of the right value and temperature, and putting it in exactly the right place—that’s the job of the painter.
And then leaving it alone…Nothing to it.
Women of the River
Louisa Davis Minot, Niagara Falls from the American Side, 1818, New York Historical Society, New York, NY, USA.
Here is an art history mystery. Louisa Davis Minot is known only through two paintings and a vivid prose sketch of Niagara Falls. Obviously skilled and well-trained, Minot doesn’t appear in any of the usual art history textbooks.
Minot’s description of the Falls was published in North American Review in 1815. She’s highlighted in this online roundup of six under-recognized female artists of the nineteenth-century Hudson River School.
Minot is ripe for rediscovery – art history sleuths out there, I’m looking at you.