Frank Bette Plein Air 2020
PLEIN AIR PAINTOUT 2020, LITE
by Karen Braun Malpas
This event has always been one of the highlights of Frank Bette’s annual offerings. It usually draws 40 artists from all over and the work they produce in Alameda of Alameda draws hundreds of outdoor viewers and patrons. That, of course, was pre-Covid.
Rather than leisurely walking in and out of real, often wet, paintings displayed at South Shore, you are this year invited to access the exhibition via Frank Bette’s virtual gallery.
This summer 26 hardy painters were able and willing to stay the course. While they were encouraged to come and paint the Alameda scene, painting where they were was also permissible. As a result, there are many interesting paintings showing land and urban scenes that are not of our island.
Barbara Tapp shows us how watercolor is done in her careful confident compositions which employ complimentary colors on the color wheel to literally compliment each other, make each other look better. A spot of red makes the green-lein Air Paintout 2020, Litescape more brilliant, for example.
Catherine Fasciato shows 3 water scenes which deftly play active and transparent water against the solid, structural rock shoreline.
Jan Norsetter lowered the horizon line to allow for big beautiful skycapes. She controls the viewers eye through the directional elements of paths, clouds converging and crop rows.
Kristian Matthews creates very active paint surfaces. Up close they may seem like so many brushstrokes but, backing up to the optimum, intended distance, they all coalesces into forms woven by color. His paintings are “about” a wider scene,a locale, an environment rather than one specific pictorial aspect of it.
Mandar Wagholiker paints scenes of a dreamy, idealized candy-colored California flooded in bright light. Our imagination inserts people into these settings who must all be beautiful and happy.
Phillipe Gandiol says more with less. He provides just enough visual information to explain the top of a tree, for example, or overhead wires but the brush marks are more like abbreviations. The darkest darks are well placed though they too are not necessarily a “thing”, an object, they are marks that serve a function as a visual bass note.
Marti Walker gave us a portrait of quintessential California in “Golden Oak Woodland.” The sweeping golden hills punctuated by the characteristic dark mounds of California oak trees are so NOT Maine, Florida, Arizona, or Iowa.
Richie Vios has a natural touch for watercolor. It is a quality of fearlessness. He loads up a big brush with pigment and lays it on, layer on layer, more and more specific but stoping well before smothering the image in unnecessary details. We picture him smiling and occasionally holding his breath in crucial places.
Thanks to all the painters who love painting outdoors and let us know it.