New York artist Edward Minoff wrote an article that will appear in the July/August issue of American Artist on his process for creating Waves, a large-scale landscape in the style of the Hudson River School painters. As I’ve been working with him on this article, I’ve become interested and intrigued by the lengths Minoff went in order to develop his understanding of the ocean before painting it.
Like the Hudson River School artists before him who he counts as inspiration—including Frederic Edwin Church, Asher B. Durand, and William Trost Richards—Minoff spent months carefully analyzing and observing his subject. He took the time to develop detailed notes, drawings, and color studies to aid in his finished piece, as well as using such scientific methods as Munsell color chips and his knowledge of the properties of light and water to achieve an accurate representation.
I’d like to share a few paragraphs from this article here with you, as well as the finished Waves painting, and then encourage you to read Minoff’s article in its entirety when the July/August issue goes on sale in early June. He offers a thorough account of how he approached this large-scale landscape and how his careful preparatory work allowed him to achieve his desired objective—namely that observers would "feel the warmth of the light, hear the crash of the waves, and smell the salty sea air as the painting filled their view."
by Edward Minoff, 2009, oil, 40 x 96. Collection Cavalier Galleries, Greenwich, Connecticut.
My interest in the work of the Hudson River School painters and their approach to the landscape has been building for much of my career, and it culminated in the cofounding of the Hudson River Fellowship with Jacob Collins, Nicholas Hiltner, and Travis Schlaht. We began an intensive study of the Hudson River School painters, fueled by a deep admiration of their artwork and a desire to understand how they went about painting such substantial landscapes. The fellowship program has been a way for us to gather a community of artists around the Hudson River School's now-uncommon ideals. I found that much of what I learned about the approach of the Hudson River School painters confirmed the methods that I arrived at with my seascape paintings. Later, the study of the painters Frederic Edwin Church, Asher B. Durand, and William Trost Richards, among others, helped to hone my process. Many clues were found not only in their paintings and studies but also in correspondence, including the tremendously insightful “Letters on Landscape Painting” column written by Asher B. Durand and published in The Crayon.
I have studied the sea for years. After much experimentation, I have found that taking detailed notes of moments is the most useful means of study for me. In order to gain the freedom to create a composition, a thorough understanding of the subject in three dimensions is necessary. Perhaps this is a common thread running through all of my work because I find this to be true whether I am painting a figure, a bottle of wine, or the ocean. I have a single notebook that I now bring with me whenever I go to the beach, and, in graphite, I attempt to dissect the anatomy of waves. I look for patterns and then try to understand why I am seeing what I see. Along with color studies painted on location and peppered with sand, I am able to invent compositions in my studio using my notes and, ultimately, my understanding of water. I use absolutely no photographs—I feel that they cannot accurately capture the true experience of spending time by the water and watching its continual flow. In my paintings, I am trying to recreate that experience.
Edward Minoff's painting Waves is on view at Cavalier Galleries, in Greenwich, Connecticut, May 14 through 28. For more information, visit cavaliergalleries.com. For more information on Minoff, visit his website at www.edwardminoff.com. For more information on the Hudson River Fellowship, visit www.hudsonriverlandscape.com.