Jazz and Poetry
Daily or weekly or somewhat frequent journal with original poetry, some jazz, and a variety of ideas that spring from the head of wendi loomis.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Linda Cheek capturing the light painting en plein aire

While attending the opening of “From the Highlands to the Lowlands” at the Red Clover Gallery I had the chance to meet the artist of the hour Linda Cheek. However, since it was such a busy social evening we made plans to visit over the phone the following week. That evening I simply enjoyed wandering through the gallery and noticing the beautiful blues of a lake, the cotton candy lightness of a sky, and the exquisite detail of bicycles parked in downtown Charleston. Each painting seemed a little window into a moment of beauty somewhere in the Carolinas.

When we finally did speak, I started by asking her how she picked “Highlands to the Lowlands” for this show?

Plein-air is painting on location in the open. What I do is I take my paint box and get in my car and drive around until something grabs my attention. I’m usually there for an hour or hour and twenty minutes. I finish the painting there. The British painter John Constable was the first to do the landscape paintings. Up until then landscapes were just backdrops to something else. Then impressionists came along and took the work outside.

I’m in Marshall, NC. Sometimes I go down to the coast, but all my paintings are done on location in this area and on those trips. Another term, pochades, is a French word which means “small sketch” and what they call the painting box I take out. Anything under an 8x10 can be called a pochades.

How did you get interested in this type of painting?

I went to Ringling School of Art in Sarasosta and got a B.S. in fine art and at the time I didn’t realized that when our instructor packed us onto the bus and took us to the beach and told us “paint” that’s what we were doing. So really that’s how I was instructed to paint. Recently I’ve returned to that, and of course right now it’s very fashionable.

You say you recently returned, what were you doing before?

Well actually since 1990. Before 1990 I was working as an illustrator in Atlanta and they brought in computers and everything was going to be done on a Mac. I didn’t want to work on a computer. I knew that if I didn’t make that break then to become a fine artist I would never get to that. So, in 1990 I left a very cushy job and I move here and have been painting outdoors two days a week ever since.

There seems to be a contrast in your work from the detail of some of the downtown scenes with architecture to landscapes engulfed by the sky?

If you don’t have the passion it’s hard to make a good finished painting. I enjoy doing the detail and the architecture because I do so many landscapes I get to use colors that don’t exist in nature in those paintings. The sky paintings are probably left over from my days at Lockheed because I used to paint a lot of skies and then put C-5 and C-130 in it. I enjoy the sky because it’s more like abstract art. I’ve just thought of something…I went from plane paintings to plein aire. That’s funny.

What do you mean by abstract when you’re talking about painting the sky?

Any good painting whether it’s abstract or impressionist they all have an abstract design quality to them. Good abstract used to have some design to it. All of the laws of what makes a good composition and so forth. These laws are tried and true so you don’t reinvent the wheel. Composition, design and so forth are what I’m looking for in a sky painting. Those clouds can’t be like rocks, they are light and moving. It’s not like painting a rock or a tree it’s more atmospheric.

Do you have favorite paintings in this show?

No, not really. My next one is my favorite. I consider myself a student and will always be a student and I keep thinking my next one is going to be better.

Do you have favorite things that you stop for to paint?

I think besides the subject matter it’s the light and the effect of the light on the subject. See that’s why you’ve got to finish it within an hour because that light is changing. If you don’t finish it in that time you’re painting another painting because the shadow and the light have moved.

Have you ever done a second painting in the same setting?

Yeah, that’s why you do the little paintings. So you can get more than one out of where you have set up.If you’ve been there before you can go and get started and wait for the sun to do what you know is coming and create that effect.

When you go out are you racing to get to certain spots you’ve picked?

Anytime I go anywhere I’m constantly looking for something. After all these years I kind of know where I’m going to go or if I see something on the way. It’s not a race, it’s just a days work. It’s like a sales man goes to one door and knocks and if no one is there he goes to the next door. Every day is different and you may go to one place and not find what you’re looking for there so you move on. But it’s not a race. It’s something you find that you want to take the time to capture in a way that transfers the impact of what you’ve seen to the people who view the painting.

How long did it take to put together your first show in a gallery?

Even when I was working in Atlanta as an illustrator I had a small body of work that was being shown in galleries. Galleries want at least twenty so I don’t know if I can give you a time. From the day I moved here I was meeting with a group of artists who went out on Thursdays to paint and we were showing among ourselves. We met more artists and it just grew from that.

Which galleries show your work?

Red Clover, 16 Patten in Asheville, and Friedman’s in Savannah. Willow Wisp Farm Studios is the home of the Western North Carolina Plein aire painters. I’ve been in Ken Farmer’s auction house in Virginia and Skinner’s in Boston, Massachusetts. I’ve got a permanent painting at the Salmagundi Club in New York. It’s the oldest art club in the United States and has the reputation that goes with that, and they have shows and a permanent collection. The reason I’m in there is because I got the George Gray award several times, so as part of the award they take your piece as part of the collection. George Gray is one of the Coast Guard awards. On Governor’s Island in New York they have a coast guard station and they used to have a competition and I was a Coast Guard artist so I could submit and did.

We pause a moment in our conversation to look up the images of these paintings available on the internet. Were you in the Coast Guard or was this from Lockheed?

It was from Lockheed, that’s that C-130 in the Rescue on the North Slope painting. I found out you could be a Coast Guard artist and stay on the post where they’re stationed like in the barracks. They put you up as long as you were going to do a painting of anything related to the Coast Guard. I don’t know if the other services do this or not. It was incentive to do that. Lockheed got me the Coast Guard artist badge. I don’t know how they did that. I probably never would have even known about it if I hadn’t worked for Lockheed. I think the C-130 is the prettiest plane they make. The red on white is like putting lipstick and a string of pearls on the plane and makes it look better.

I noticed there are no airplanes in this show at all.
No, no.

Linda’s show of plein aire landscapes “From the Highlands to the Lowlands” will be at the Red Clover Gallery until September 10. For further information, please visit www.redclovergallery.com or call 864.457.3311. The Red Clover Gallery is located at 214 E. Rutherford Street in downtown Landrum, South Carolina.
posted by wendi @ 8:00 AM 0 comments links to his post

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