Yesterday the group of landscape painters known as the Hudson River Fellowship officially finished their month long residency in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.
On Friday, the weary but triumphant band of artists gathered in Hunter, New York for the traditional potluck supper and the showing of the harvest of pencil drawings and oil studies. Above: Emilee Lee.
Among the chief inspirations for their approach are the pre-Impressionist location studies by Asher Durand, Frederic Church, William Trost Richards, and the Russian sylvan wizard Ivan Shishkin. Below: a work by HRF fellow Erik Koeppel.
The HRF students come from all over the world. They receive a free scholarship, though the association is not an atelier or academy as such. To preserve the feeling of collegiality, the name was changed from “Hudson River School for Landscape” to “Hudson River Fellowship.” The instructor is Nature herself. Below: Noah Layne
This summer Mother Nature dealt them an unusual amount of rain, wind, bears, and mosquitoes, along with the the usual challenges of changing light and fluctuating stream levels.
“It is through extensive and real engagement that the artist learns to capture the spirit of the landscape,” the website says. “The many hundreds of hours spent out in the sun and the wind, scrupulously studying nature, transform the artist.”
Charles Williams told me that they woke up before the sun rose each morning and often stayed on site until sunset to capture the fleeting colors of dusk.
Many of the students hail from an academic background, where their precise observation skills help them sort out and organize the vast complexity that confronts the eye in a forest streamscape or a tree study. As Sadie Valeri puts it, they learn to “Slooooow waaaaay doooooown,” and really observe before they put down each stroke.
The disciplined observation of the HVF, if it is combined with feeling and imagination, is sure to “boldly originate a high and independent style,” as Asher Durand wrote in 1855.
Grand Central Academy blog showing behind the scenes.
Official HVF website.
Sadie Valeri’s blog, with videos of painting in a downpour.
Here are Sadie's detailed reviews of various plein air art materials.
Another very detailed post on "Lines and Colors" about pochade boxes.
Previous GJ post on the Hudson River School for Landscape.