Ella Yang Studio

Ella Yang Studio presents the up-to-date portfolio of cityscape and landscape paintings by contemporary fine artist Ella Yang, as well as her latest exhibition and other news from her studio in Gowanus.

Filtering by Tag: art history

Fairfield Porter at Tibor de Nagy

Some people have said that my paintings in their early stages look like Fairfield Porter's. (But then they become Yangs!). Given my relatively meager art history education (it was never a favorite subject, to be honest), I hadn't seen a lot of Porter's works until more recently, say in the last 10 years. A collector/friend pointed out to me that Tibor de Nagy has an exhibit now (through December 3) and I gladly went to see it. This exhibit comprises a mixture of genres - portraits, landscapes, still life, and includes a few older works that I would never have guessed were even his. In any case, there were a handful that really resonated with me.

This little one caught my attention right away (and my terrible cell phone camera does not do it justice). He clearly painted it swiftly and confidently. The colors in the sky are remarkably luscious and luminous.

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He applied the paint in the sky in thick, oily swaths of luscious, melding subtle pastel colors ranging from blush of pink to barely gold to a pale green-tinged blue. These colors stand out against the muted, mid-tone, and relatively thinly applied colors of the rest of the landscape, making the sky and atmosphere the center of attention. This painting just glows! (I would have loved to bring it home, but I was short about $250,000).

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Then there was this very different one which I might not have guessed was a Porter given the hectic brush marks and odd little figures. The path between the figures and the table and chairs to the right seems almost dangerous, as if the shadows themselves are spikes or thorns and scratchy! My eyes search for the "safe" places, the areas between the things. But the light has his signature luminosity.

I'd like to end with this one, as it seems to embody what makes Porter's paintings so interesting and informative for me. Even with a somewhat muted palette, he deftly manages to keep his lights bright and his shadows deep. What intrigues me about this one is how the main subject of this painting is the space between the many different objects - house, sheds, fences, shrubs and trees - and not one or more of the objects themselves. In fact, the trees nearly dissolve into the sky with their branches barely articulated. You know they are trees, but they are more like symbols. Ingeniously, the space is not static because the objects are located in planes that recede from the picture plane, but you remain contained within the frame thanks to the tree branches that end at the edge of the canvas. The viewer's eyes, thus, contentedly may rove around repeatedly, noticing the diverse brushstrokes and subtle variations of color. Yes, this would have been nice to cart home, too, if I had recently won the lottery!

Don't miss this quiet gem of an exhibition.

"You're a Dinosaur!"

A plein air painter friend of mine recently told me about her encounter with a passer-by when she was outside painting in the West Village this past summer. This stranger pointed out to my friend, "You're a dinosaur!" In other words, this person believed that not since the late 19th century when the Impressionists launched their movement had there been any artists painting on-site. Either that, or this person was hallucinating and really believed she had sighted an ancient reptile! The fact is that even while all sorts of artistic trends have come and gone, there have always been artists interested in and pursuing their passion for painting what they see on-site, out-of-doors, and I am one to continue on that path.  Sure, people are often surprised to see me with my easel in a particularly grimy neighborhood (as by the Gowanus Canal has been for years!) or even on a neighborhood sidewalk - "Are you painting that bodega, miss?!" "Are housing projects your specialty?"

We paint from life outside for various reasons. For me, it's the combination of my love of being outdoors and the challenge of capturing the colors and shapes I see before me in a pleasing and interesting composition. I do what I love, especially finding beauty in small, everyday details.  And the process is meditative; I am rarely as calm yet energized as when I paint en plein air. Am I carrying on a tradition? Am I stuck in the past?  Does it make a difference? 

In the end, I have my own voice and make my own mark(s).  Let the sun shine!

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