En Plein Air: A California Exhibition

Stately Palms
by Paul Grimm, oil, 20 x 24. Private collection.

by Allison Malafronte

There’s a wonderful exhibition of landscape work currently on view at The Irvine Museum, in Irvine, California, that I would like to share with all of you. It’s called “All the Water That Will Ever Be, Is, Right Now,” and it will remain open until January 17, 2009.

Always consistent in their presentations of important landscape paintings from the past—particularly those by the early California Impressionists—The Irvine Museum has once again done a terrific job of assembling an impressive body of landscape work, this time centered around the theme of water’s role in nature and the artists who've interpreted it.

Untitled Seascape
by Edgar Payne, oil, 20 x 24. Private collection.

“As the title of our exhibition states, water, in its three physical forms—liquid (water), solid (ice), and gas (water vapor)—is a fixed quantity that has remained the same for the past hundreds of millions of years,” the exhibition organizers explain. “The water cycle is the only way that the Earth can be continually supplied with fresh water. In this exhibition we are featuring the perpetual cycle of water in our atmosphere and how aspects of that cycle figure prominently in the majestic landscape paintings from our early California artists.”

Some of those early California artists featured in this exhibition include Paul Grimm, Granville Redmond, and Edgar Payne, all of whom show either the grandeur or grace of water in their beautifully composed depictions of nature. Paul Grimm (1892-1974) is known for his paintings of the heat and intense light of the California desert as well as for his dramatic skies, and in his Stately Palms, featured in this exhibition, we see clouds in their various vaporous shapes and colors creating a dramatic framework for the landscape elements beneath.

Untitled–Moonlight Marsh Scene
by Granville Redmond, oil, 26 x43. Courtesy The Irvine Museum, Irvine, California.

Granville Redmond’s (1871-1935) poetic interpretation of a marshland in Untitled—Moonlight Marsh Scene sheds light on the important role of this often underappreciated element of the landscape. Marshes help recharge water supplies, moderate stream flow, clean polluted waters, and serve as a habitat for a large number of species, both native and migratory. Redmond’s thoughtful rendition reminds us of the marsh’s necessary existence in our ecosystem. 

Untitled Seascape, by Edgar Payne (1883-1947), shows—in the typical style of this artist—the strength and beauty inherent in the Pacific Ocean’s powerful waves. Payne’s arresting composition and perspective allow the viewer to almost feel the force of the water crashing against the cliff edges, while the cloudlike appearance of the sea foam soothes and makes the water seem inviting.

To view these and other early California painters' impressions of water in nature, visit the “All the Water That Will Ever Be, Is, Right Now” exhibition at The Irvine Museum, in Irvine, California. For more information go to www.irvinemuseum.org.

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Plein Air Painting Blog
Allison Malafronte

About Allison Malafronte

Allison Malafronte is the senior editor of American Artist magazines, and the project editor of  Plein Air Painting and Workshop With the Masters magazines. She is also the creative manager of the Weekend With the Masters Workshop & Conference (www.aamastersweekend.com) which was launched in 2009 and is now in its third year. She is author of the Art for Thought column in American Artist magazine (also on the Artist Daily site under The Artist's Life blog) and the 2008-2010 Plein Air blogs on Artist Daily. 

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