Beginning with an opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6, the September exhibition at Peninsula Gallery brings together the work of two well-known landscape painters, Steve Rogers of Lewes and Mary Pritchard of Chestertown, Md.
The title Exploring the Process was chosen by the artists with a specific intent. In the process of presenting finished work, each artist intends to share insights on the approach taken in capturing a landscape by presenting smaller images and preliminary sketches of the finished work.
Well known for his iconic maritime images of working boats, Rogers works primarily in the studio starting with photographs, many of which he takes himself as he travels. He then alters the photographs, adding or subtracting elements to achieve the artistic image he wishes to present.
Writing of his methods, Rogers notes, “A photograph is a memory device and a starting point. The image must be rearranged; things need to be added and things need to be removed. Sometimes the weather or the time of day will change. A rough sketch of the composition or a small painting is the next step. This helps me visualize the finished piece. It is not unusual for further changes to occur when an idea translates from a small composition to a large one. And some ideas work better as a small painting … and some ideas need the size and scope of a large canvas to succeed.”
Thus despite the very realistic presentation of the final work, there is a strong element of artistic inventiveness and creativeness to the process that Rogers feels is a necessary part of creating a successful landscape.
Pritchard received her bachelor's degree in studio art from Mount Holyoke College and has master’s degrees in both art and journalism. An award-winning pastel artist, she is known for her landscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as well as coastal Maine and rural Nova Scotia.
Working almost exclusively in pastel, Pritchard says, “Pastel is the most direct medium - fast, flexible and forgiving. In its simplest form, nothing intervenes between the artist’s hand and the application of pigment to the surface. The sheer physicality of pastel and its endless technical potential inspire me in exploring themes and subject matter.”
Like Rogers, Pritchard has developed a series of steps to complete a work. “No matter the theme or subject matter, the painting process always begins with a value study. Using black and white pastels on gray paper, this is the most valuable technique I know for improving my painting success rate. Not only does it act as a rehearsal for the final pastel, allowing me to work fresher, faster, and more directly, it is an engine for idea generation as the value study captures the strongest and most immediate response to the subject. Reviewing a whole series of these quick studies allows me to connect that response with a more formal analysis, selecting those images to pursue, those to discard, and those to put aside."
Pritchard writes of her work, “My challenge as a landscape painter is to retain a sense of place while creating a new reality that exists on the two-dimensional surface."
These two artists invite the public into that reality and in this exhibition, attempt to illuminate the path they have followed to achieve this end. The show extends through Sept. 30.
The Peninsula Gallery at 520 East Savannah Road, is currently in its 18th year and presents the work of more than 20 local, regional and international artists. The gallery also provides conservation framing and restoration services. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday. The gallery is closed Monday. Phone 302-645-0551 or go to www.peninsula-gallery.com.