Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Discovering the Hudson River School of Artists

Although you know me primarily as a maker of desert paintings, the start to the look I wanted to achieve began with a painting of the mountains.

In the Mountains,  Albert Bierstadt,  1867, 36-3/16" x50-1/4" / 91.9cm x 127.6cm
I saw this image (or another, very similar piece) in the early 1980s as a framed print at a shopping mall in a setup like a kiosk, except the prints were hanging on a windowless wall with portable walls jutting out at 90°. I was full into landscape photography at the time, until I saw this image. I loved everything about In the Mountains and realized I had never taken a photo that impacted me the way this item did.

Although I dabbled in painting, I had never seen views like this before. This type of art was never discussed in the college art-history classes I had taken. This was a totally new discovery for me -- I grew instantly and began seeking out more works like this.

I found them in time (no Internet then), and "discovered" other 19th century artists like Frederick E. Church, Thomas Moran and many others. These three became my "art heroes" and set me on an artistic path that I remain on to this day.

Of course, it would take me a long time before I could even begin to approach the sheer drama and emotional impact of paintings like In the Mountains. I think I've gotten much closer, and I continue to develop with every painting I make. I don't know if I'll ever achieve the mastery of landscape painting that these masters reached.

But I gotta try!