By Diane Y. Welch
Azure waves, graceful eucalyptus trees, ethereal shorelines and panoramic bluff top vistas — each are a facet of La Jolla's aesthetic beauty. While these images are lovely to look at up-close and personal, when viewed through the eyes of a plein-air artist they are transformed and become so much lovelier. Now the scenes appear more vibrant, have texture, and possess a spectrum of color that the untrained eye may not perceive.
During an evening of wine and cheese on Feb. 23, a dozen such artists shared their freshly painted La Jolla canvasses with the public at the La Jolla Fine Art Gallery, 7602 Fay Ave. Their work will remain on exhibit through March 23.
Mark Slusser, one of the artists, organized the exhibition to bring together some of San Diego County's most noted and impassioned plein-air painters. The group is not an official organization, but rather a loose association of like-minded artists whose work celebrates La Jolla's most memorable scenic spots and some of its signature urban sites.
Included in the show are paintings by Joli Beal, Norm Daniels, Mark Fehlman, Carolyn Hesse-Low, Patty McGeeney, Lynne Schulnik, Dottie Stanley, Paul Strahm, Marjorie Taylor, Toni Williams and Jeff Yeomans. Several of the artists have award-winning stature, like Yeomans, Hesse-Low and Stanley.
Slusser explained that “en plein air” is a French expression that means “in the open air.” It is used to describe the act of painting outdoors. “Each of these exhibited plein-air paintings is a gem that I think people will really respond to because they will recognize many of the gorgeous scenes of La Jolla,” he said.
A transplant from Utah, Slusser moved to San Diego in 2008. He said as he searched for the gorgeous places to paint in La Jolla he would often see other painters. “I started to meet more and more plein-air artists and they each struck me as being exemplary painters of this area.”
Dottie Stanley opened the La Jolla Fine Art Gallery five years ago. She is a Fellow of the American Artists Professional League and renowned internationally for her portraiture. Slusser joined her in the gallery seven months ago. Both offer classes at the gallery that doubles as a studio.
Several other artists also teach their craft; Taylor at the San Diego Art Institute and Williams at locations around the county.
Slusser pointed out that there seems to be a resurgence of this plein-air painting as though it's a backlash to the abstract work that has been prevalent for so many decades.
“Art lovers are now seeking out realism and impressionism as a breath of fresh air,” said Slusser. “There's something about painting in the environment that captures and imbues a painting with a freshness, a lightness … a lot like the work of the French Impressionists … somehow the air and the light permeates the paint. A local painter capturing the beauty of local scenes is something that La Jollans may have a great deal of pride in.”
If you go
What: La Jolla Fine Art Gallery
Where: 7602 Fay Ave.
Contacts: (858) 456-3960
(801) 864 1918