What I always find incredible about plein air paintings in general, and Jan Blencowe’s paintings in particular, is that after just one sitting (and despite constantly changing light and weather) BAM—there’s another finished painting.
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But it’s that immediacy, I think, which allows the artist’s experience, in that place, to seep into the artwork itself.
You see, Jan’s plein air paintings aren’t just landscapes. . . they’re landscapes showing a certain time of day, a certain time of year, even a certain temperature—and they’re a direct link to how the artist interacted with what she saw.
In River and Clouds (above) I notice the low horizon line and the sweep of Jan’s brush across the canvas to form those rolling clouds. I can almost feel the broad expanse of space and the massive sky with its restless wind.
But all of Jan’s paintings evoke a different feeling. September Field of Trees, for instance, is more pastoral, with blooming flowers and a much-overgrown lane.
Everything’s a little more deliberate, too, as if the artist had a longer time to linger here, perhaps in the shade of those trees.
And although I do like those extra details, I think my favorite paintings by Jan are her very authentic “plein air” impressionist-style works—paintings primarily of light and color with just a hint of structure, like Treetops at Noon.
You can clearly see each spot where Jan put her brush, how each stroke left just a dab of paint, and yet the scene itself loses nothing in the process. It’s an impression in the truest sense of the word—and it’s fantastic.