A group of over 30 landscape painters has been working for almost a month in Hunter, New York, in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. They’re participating in the second annual Hudson River School for Landscape, founded by Jacob Collins, who is also renowned for his atelier called Grand Central Academy of Art in New York City.
Travis Schlaht produced this painting of the Stream at Kaaterskill Falls during last year’s five-week session.
The lodging and tuition are provided for free of charge thanks to a generous fellowship from the Catskill Mountain Foundation. Over a hundred people applied for the positions, and Jacob told me it was very difficult to make the selection. The participants are young and talented, and they hail from as far as Spain, Germany and Australia. “It’s a little intimidating, honestly,” Jacob told me, and I agree.
I joined the group for a day of painting (Jacob Collins at left and me at right), and I probably brought bad luck because a torrential downpour opened up as soon as we got going.
Scott Balfe switched to a sombrero and Army-issue poncho to head off the downpour.
Here's my 11x14 painting of Scott (sans sombrero) alongside Schoharie Creek, with Jacob’s dog Finney wading in the shallows.
Once a week or so, the group gathers with their work-in-progress. I joined them last Wednesday for a supper, and I gave a slide show about the working methods of the early plein-airists.
The artwork that the group exhibited included sensitively-observed close views of stream rocks and mossy trees in muted colors and controlled brushwork, though there were also some rapidly-painted sunsets.
The curriculum is modeled on the methods of Asher Durand, Frederic Church, Sanford Gifford and other pre-Impressionist painters, achieving a high level of finish in pencil and oil, mostly with multiple sittings. When they get home, the artists will develop a larger composition based on the studies. Use of photography for reference is discouraged.
I believe that this group will have a significant and lasting effect on the future of American—and perhaps international—landscape painting.
My own painting of “Artists along the Schoharie Creek,” along with two other plein-air studies, are currently being exhibited and offered for sale at Windham Fine Arts Gallery in Windham, New York.
Hudson River School for Landscape home page, link.
Exhibition of last year’s class, link.
Three Gurney plein air paintings at Windham Fine Arts, link.
Jacob Collins home page, link.
Previous GJ post on painting with J. Collins, link.