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John Holdway: Contemporary, Experiential Landscape Paintings

Oil painter John Holdway has a unique take on the process and purpose of landscape painting. He doesn’t just paint landscapes in order to capture the likeness of a particular place. . . he’s also trying to convey his own personal experiences of being in nature.

And I believe he’s quite successful at that.

In fact, what I love most about John’s paintings is that each one IS absolutely unique. I think you’ll agree that in all three of the paintings below, the mood and ambience changes significantly, which adds something very special to each piece.

Let’s start with Walking, a blustery day of hiking amidst blowing wind, swaying grass, and warm, filtered sun that frequently reaches through the rolling clouds.

walking

John doesn’t paint a lot of details, and he doesn’t have to. The texture of (what appears to be) palette knife gives a realistic sense of foliage to those dark, leafy shapes rustling gently in the center of the canvas, while above and below, longer, horizontal strokes add textured layers of clouds and grass.

The colors in each section subtly blend into each other as well. Blues from the sky inhabit the shade of the shrubbery, while the ochre red of the fields reflect into the warmth of the sky.

I won’t claim to know exactly what John’s experiences were when painting this, but for myself, I certainly feel a sense of freedom and enjoyment of the wide open countryside all throughout this painting.

Next up, Pair of Trees brings to mind a very different feeling—of fog-filled mornings, so thick and quiet that the only sound you can hear for miles around is the gentle “whisk, whisk” of wet grass underfoot.

pair-of-trees

I appreciate the atypical composition, as well, where two subjects are the focus, and yet nothing is really in focus. Unliked Walking, this painting feels blurred and soft, greatly adding to its quiet, solitary feel.

Lastly, let’s take a quick look at Misty Eye to finish things up:

misty-eye

In this painting, John’s color palette is quite stunning—he uses a green-tinted yellow for the foreground (with a few patches of red and bright green here and there) and a gray/pink for the sky. Pulling it all together? A line of dark, dark trees with hints of deep red running across the horizon.

Not only is it a beautiful, brilliantly-colored painting, but it reminds me that nature (and the way we experience it) comes in every hue imagineable.

I encourage you to take some extra time today to visit John’s website—browse the rest of his paintings, and experience a little more of how he views the world.

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Known for his serene yet saturated landscapes, as well as paintings of empty rooms and solitary figures absorbed in viewing vast distances, Louis Blondiau's latest monochromatic landscape series is yet another step forward in his exploration of space, silence, and contemplation.

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