Monday, August 3, 2009

Hudson River Fellowship

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.


Unknown said...

What a wonderful idea and a wonderful philosophy! The work is beautiful.

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks for this. It's inspiring to know about opportunities to grow as artists and naturalists like this. I especially enjoyed the link to the blog. You can see the incredible work they did on the July 13 and 17 posts. And the photos on the other posts make it look like they had a really great time.

Kendra Melton said...

So lovely. Wonderful little tree sketch.

Phong Nguyen said...

wicked sketches! What sketchbox is Emily using?

James Gurney said...

Phong, I think it's a Judson's Guerilla Painter pochade box. Their website is:

Tim said...

The fellowship. They inspire and push us all and Im green (terrible "joke") with envy over here in Sweden! Maybe one day...

Times a wastin,, get paintin!

Laraine Armenti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
i, me said...

Lariaine, I think people put weights on the bottom of tripods to stabllize them - photographers use sand bags (you don't have to carry the weight around, you can fill them up on site)

James, thanks for posting these. I have taken some classes at Grand Central and attended some lectures- Jabcob (and the other founding members, Dan Thompson, etc) did an amazing job bringing back high academic standards to art training.

Much as I complain about living in NYC, it truly is an artist and art students paradise right now.

jeff said...

Judsons also sells an umbrella kit with a separate stand with a spike so you can keep it off your easel.

Personally I think this is a better idea if your going to use an umbrella as those pochade boxes tend to be a little top heavy and adding more variables too help with the laws of physics is a good thing to avoid.

The strongest out door easel is made by Take It easel but they are no longer producing them. It's a improved version of the Gloucester easel. What they are selling are the Chinese ones and they are fixing them up to work properly, which they were not.

James Gurney said...

Laraine, I agree with I,me and Jeff. Unless the umbrella is very small, I wouldn't attach it to the pochade.

If you put the words "white umbrellas" in the search box of this blog, you'll come up with two or three posts on the subject, including the Disaster at Kaaterskill Creek.

Laraine Armenti said...

James, Jeff, I-me --
Thanks for the Judson umbrella reference-- it's a good solution for soft ground. I'll need a different combination for pavement. The rock I used last week needed to be considerably larger to keep the pochade tripod stable. Thanks to everyone for your help.

Sadie J. Valeri said...

James it was great meeting you, and thanks for the link to my blog!

After reading the comments here I was inspired to write up my reviews of the outdoor painting products we used: umbrellas, pochade boxes, panels, and camp chairs. Take a look if you are interested!

Anonymous said...

I've been following the journey o Sadie's blog and your words jsut add another dimension to this amazing course. thanks for that. r.