Vermillion, crimson, scarlet, fuchsia—the color red comes in so many
different shades. And of all the colors in the spectrum, it’s the most
easily visible. It’s also the hottest of the warm colors and has even
been proven to raise blood pressure and respiration rates. No matter
the hue, if you paint it red, it will command attention.
Painting outdoors in winter can be an extreme sport. The snow, the
wind, the cold—it takes a certain kind of artist to paint a winter
landscape while in a winter landscape. The first time I
attempted this was a couple of years ago when I was living in
Connecticut. Two feet of snow had fallen the day before, but when I
looked out my window the scene was so inviting. I didn’t go far and
didn’t stay out long, but I had fun trying to capture the light effects
and reflective surface of the snow during daylight.
During this time of the year, as acts of generosity and appreciation
abound, I’m drawn to the works of the painters and draftsmen of the
Ashcan School, which thrived during the early 20th century. This group
of artists—among them Robert Henri, Everett Shinn, John French Sloan,
and William Glackens—were united by a commitment to drawing and
painting the people and places of their daily lives. Sometimes this
meant focusing on the underbelly of society, but many of the works were
really just about depicting reality. Their artwork shone a light on the
plight of the people who were part of the community in which these
I used to think so romantically about Monet, Pissarro, and the other
Impressionists. Not romantic like Manet is so dreamy; romantic as in
idealizing this particular group of painters—thinking they stepped
outside of their studios and, snap, Impressionism just happened.
Veneration can sometimes blind the mind’s eye to all the toil and
planning that goes behind an elegant masterpiece. The reality is that
the Impressionists were strategists, thinkers, and pioneering
technicians when it came to the art they produced.