“Inside Out” is an exhibition that demonstrates the deft paint handling of the veteran plein air painter Nelson H. White, and the newly emerged studio artist Amy Florence. “Inside-out” thinking means your focus is on processes, systems, tools, and products that are designed and implemented based on internal thinking and intuition, according to Wordhippo.com. Not only do these artists know their subjects “inside out” they are also using their observations of the natural world outside and putting them INto their paintings. Finally in the case of Florence, she is actually bringing the natural world inside her studio symbolized by fresh cut flowers, and also opening the windows behind these set ups…. which helps create compositions that bring the outside landscape inside her studio and ultimately onto her canvases.
“Spring in the Studio” by Amy Florence (b. 1989 | London) is the anchor painting in the show given its ambitious scale (47 x 63 inches) and its bold composition. Here, Florence continues in her series of cut flower paintings from last year – but she has created more profundity by having a doorway (or is that a frame to a mirror) and then a window blaring the day’s cool light onto a warm toned room. She has mindfully set up an array of objects and flowers that spell out springtime to anyone who has the barest knowledge of gardening. One red poppy on the right balances out the deep blue tea pot on the left – and yellow lemons and daffodils are expertly placed as a foil to deepen the warmth of the wood table. A sliver of reflected light escapes from just under the bottom plane of the table thereby framing the still life in its own light!
“After Dinner” is a companion painting to “Morning in the Studio” as Florence juxtaposes similar compositions (different still lifes set up in front of the same window) yet paints them at different times of day – so the viewer can compare the feeling of both times of day. It’s amazing to see the day version next the night version – and the wide-open window invites the viewer to feel the exterior landscape inside while also allowing the air to infuse the paintings with that plein air feeling. Not unlike Monet’s haystack series – Florence is looking a little deeper into the feeling of the place where she is creating the painting, rather than limiting her focus to the chosen subject matter. The paintings become studies of light and color, and a battle for top billing is waged between the inside and the outside – to wonderful effect. In the end light and color are the focus of these paintings, not the literal objects nor the buildings and sky outside!
And in another interesting composition highlighting the warm lights of the studio interior with the cool light of the coming evening… “Twilight in the Studio” is a casual image with a very dynamic palette and pattern – again pulling our attention to the abstract impact of the image rather than the smaller material details. A figure sits upon a sofa, reading a book; she appears small juxtaposed with the traditional large arched Italian window. Also alongside the windowsill, are objects which may be found in another new painting from Florence. The white vase with red flowers placed upon a linen-cloaked table is the same setup composed in “Red Flowers and Grapes”.
As Nelson Holbrook White (b. 1932, New London, CT) enters his 7th decade painting, we are delighted to see his “knowing” shift into a more emotional and intuitive phase. Having just reached the age of 90 years old, White has accumulated a stockpile of elemental insight few could comprehend. After decades upon decades painting by the beach, feeling the salt air on his face, and observing the blues and lavenders of the sky all while mentally measuring their key versus the everchanging tones in the moving water, one can imagine that White is now painting from a highly attuned internal place. White’s recent works have taken a decidedly poetic turn, as his “looking” deeply at nature for all these years has shifted to an unconscious “seeing” of everything everywhere, all at once. We observe this clearly in his most major work “Sunset, Sea and Sky 02.21.2021”. This painting could be mistaken for a Rothko inspired abstract painting. This is White’s mediation on a sunset that he was actually observing directly, as he mixed the paints and slathered them on the joyful 30 x 40-inch canvas. The dabs of grey and white in the lofting sky dome only help to emphasize the heat of the oranges and hot yellows that punctuate the area around the horizon line. No fluttering sail, nor beach goer, nor even a ripple in the water is indicated - as that would distract from this purely emotional response White was having to nature that evening.
Another wonderful example of White’s latest work can be found in “The Poppy Field 07.2021”. Instead of struggling to capture the various shades of green in a verdant field dashed with frolicking poppies, White’s earned confidence is evidenced by his bold use of the palette knife as he lays pure pigment upon pure pigment to share with us his daily communing with nature. The red poppies, rather than being described by his brush, are hinted at with flicks of his wrist and on this canvas, they look like a flock of exotic birds bursting into flight.
Even as White returns to some of his favorite subject matter, like the ever-present red umbrella on the beach, we see a richer palette and somewhat quieter more contemplative compositions, as with “Bagno Martinelli 03.10.2022”. Here, there’s a sole figure standing in the distance near a single white wave curling toward the beach, presented with buoyant colors as usual, but so very quiet and calm.
In “The Yellow Umbrella” White obscures the details of his beachscape – a yellow umbrella is a mere swell of paint, a thick squiggle of yellow, floating above the horizon line. Below the yellow marking, a red silhouette, of what I believe to be a figure, basks under the umbrellas shade. Other details on the sand are abstracted to an undecipherable magnitude.
We have pulled some of White’s older works that were hinting at this latest development, which are illustrated here…but we recommend that all of White’s fans come into the gallery to see these new marvelous and accomplished works.