For a plein air artist, lugging materials and supplies into the wilderness is a rough-and-tumble business. Painting in the wind and rain can be unpleasant, but the call of a bruised sky, wind-whipped marsh grasses and the chance to capture the play of light and shadow as a cold front passes are the stuff that defines tough to a painter who enjoys the day, whatever the day may bring.
Such an artist is Denise Dumont, who will be featured in a one-person exhibition opening with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Saturday Aug. 2, at Peninsula Gallery in Lewes. Dumont, a resident of Milton, is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design with studio work completed at the School of Visual Arts, both in New York City.
Titled Impressions of the Delaware Shore, the exhibition of over 30 pieces displays the consummate skills of a master picture maker, but more importantly, the true nature that is the heart of the landscape painter. Many of the works in this exhibition are small in scale due to the nature of painting on site, rapidly recording the light and detail of the scene, while some of the larger works were painted in the studio, developed from studies and observations made at the site. It is a sign of Dumont’s artistic talent that the larger works sustain the immediacy of the moment as if they too were completed on site.
In three of the larger works, Dumont offers a trifecta of similar scenes but imbues each with the kind of incident and observation most particular to the scene itself. “Dune Grass” weaves a cascade of intersecting diagonals capped by a high horizon crested with scrub pines. The bright warmth of the sunlit dunes is counterpointed by the powerfully cool calligraphy of the beach grass shadows, both bold and lyrical. “Dunes at Cape Henlopen” shares a higher horizon, but this time from a higher observation point, thus allowing a broader view. There are suggestions that this painting is more toward a midday hour.
There is a brighter and more intense refraction of the light. It almost glares in its noonish sweep across the beach, counterpointed again by the expansive, deeper and broader shaded area of the foreground. “Cape Henlopen State Park” has a broader and more expansive view of the scene. Though still bright, the painting suggests that the day is overcast. The shadows pool and linger and settle in as the highlights dance across the picture in equal measure. It’s as if they are collectively signaling the day rather than individually vying for attention.
So, the viewer sees similar scenes but with quite different handling. In each case, finding the character of time and place as painterly incidents gather across the canvas - as brushstrokes collide and overlay to create the natural intersections that are evocative of ‘in this place and at this time.’ Happily, so it goes throughout the exhibition, which will extend to Sunday, Aug. 31.
For more information go to www.peninsula-gallery.com.