Adventures in Paint

Manana's Shore, 2011, oil on linen panel, 11" x 14"

Fort Gorges Sunrise, oil on panel, 12" x 12"

Clearing with Reflection, 2013, acrylic on panel, 19" x 21"

Roy Germon

Michael Fraser

Colin Page

THE CANVAS – November 2014
By Jaime Thompson

Painters Michael Fraser, Roy Germon, and Colin Page demonstrate that focusing on technique need not result in works devoid of vivacity. From spontaneous, impressionistic brushwork to emphasis on color and light, these artists revel in the pure material qualities of paint and the surprising effects it can achieve.    Michael Fraser:
Fraser became interested in art at a very young age, which he attributes to the fact that his family didn’t have a television when he was growing up. “I found other ways to entertain myself, like drawing and painting,” he says. That inclination to create must have run in the family: his sister Elizabeth is also an accomplished painter, with whom he often collaborates. Fraser cites his family as a major inspiration, as well as the “beautiful landscapes of New England.” Fraser often paints Vermont scenes, particularly from North Hero, Mount Mansfield, and Lake Champlain, as well as coastal Maine views. His spontaneous style suits the atmospheric landscapes he favors. Oil paint proves to be an ideal medium for him: “I tend to paint quickly, but a benefit of oil is that it doesn’t dry quickly,” Fraser says. He appreciates the “workability” oil offers, as it is easy to tweak or rework a painting later on.

Fort Gorges Sunrise depicts a scene well loved by Fraser. When he lived in the area he frequently walked his dog, Picasso, along the Eastern Prom in time to catch the rising sun over Casco Bay. His easy, fluid brushwork gives the piece an immediacy and intimacy, capturing the joy of those treasured moments. Cool pinks and icy blues contrast with the soft warmth of the sun, which shines in a burst of light at the horizon. Fraser has chosen the magical moment when the sun first appears in all its glory, with swirls of color forming a halo around it. The details of the surrounding scene are hazy, but the painting’s emotional quality is clear: the new day is bright and full of promise.
Roy Germon:
Germon began working with acrylic paint while living in a small apartment in New York City. “My studio was a drawing table in the corner of my bedroom,” recalls Germon, who decided that a no-fuss medium would suit his makeshift workspace. “Turned out it is a good match for the way that I work,” he says. “There are a lot of interesting effects that can be made if you thin out the paint with medium or water or even draw into it when it is wet, which I’m fond of doing.” Germon revels in paint’s richness, in mark-making, and in the sheer craftsmanship of working with his materials. “I paint landscapes that point in the direction of abstraction because they are primarily about painting,” he says. His focus is on “composition, structure, and brushwork,” in order to create bold, but balanced, paintings that offer “a way of describing the world in terms of place and perspective,” says Germon.
He sometimes paints en plein air but does the bulk of his work in the studio. He uses quick snapshots or on-site sketches as references, building up the layers of the final piece on panel. Germon’s composition and design choices are more deliberate,whereas his choices of color and the application of paint “need to be spontaneous.” “The most enjoyable part of the process is when I’m in the moment and just responding to the marks and colors that I have just put on the panel,” he says. “My work is as much about the discovery in the painting process as the resulting view.” Clearing with Reflection is from a series Germon completed in 2012 and 2013 based on sketches from several trips to Acadia. He describes the landscape that inspired this piece: “The morning fog had just lifted on this tidal inlet and the sun reflected from the haze.” The piece exemplifies Germon’s focus on the geometry and sculpture of a painting. He notes that the simple composition—a clearing framed on either side by a stand of trees—allowed him to be freer in representing the reflections. The horizontal strokes lend the painting a harmonious balance, while the thick layers of paint lend richness. Clearing with Reflection conveys a peaceful mood, and the essence of a beautiful natural landscape, but it is all about the paint. It is a celebration of color and texture.

Colin Page:
Page’s light-filled, colorful paintings abound with energy. His deft brushwork and mastery of color relationships result in forms that are evocative rather than overtly representational. Sun-dappled picnics, summertime amusements, and dramatic landscapes come to life through Page’s painterly works. A driving force behind his creative philosophy is his desire to capture three dimensions on a two-dimensional plane. “I’m inspired by strong light and interesting color combinations,” he says. “I find something that grabs my eye and work on fitting that onto a canvas.” Technique and medium are paramount to achieving this goal. Page cites his “calligraphic brushstrokes” and “gestural paint handling” as the means to convey his “experience of painting the canvas.” With landscapes, Page typically works on location and paints “quickly and directly to try to capture a fleeting moment,” he says.

Manana’s Shore depicts a scene encountered by Page and his wife during a hike. He was drawn to the composition’s intrinsic thrill: “This perspective is a bit dizzying, the way the viewer is looking down a hill with no horizon line. Landscapes that disorient are inherently more interesting.” The contrasts in tone—from the cool blue water to the warmth of the rocky landscape—were of special interest to Page. He uses bold patches of color to suggest the rock-studded grass and the foaming waves. Page even utilizes his painting surface to add texture and depth to his work: the linen’s weave subtly shows through under the thinner areas of paint.