Abstract Horizons

William Crosby hails from Youngstown, Ohio. He studied at Cornell University and transferred to the University of Michigan to earn his bachelor’s degree in design and photography and his master’s degree in painting. He taught art for 35 years at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. His work has been shown at galleries in New York, Maine, South Carolina, Vermont, Michigan, and Ohio. Crosby is represented by Harbor Square Gallery in Rockland, Martin Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina, Art Collector Maine in Portland, the Gallery at Somes Sound on Mount Desert Island, and J. Todd Galleries in Wellesley and Chatham, Massachusetts. 

Tim Beavis is from Dayton, Ohio, and currently lives in Kittery Point. He graduated in 1966 from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Beavis has participated in exhibitions at galleries including Drift Gallery and Nahcotta in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, McGowan Fine Art in Concord, New Hampshire, CG Gallery in Princeton, New Jersey, June Fitzpatrick Gallery in Portland, and the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. He is represented by Drift Gallery and Nahcotta. 

Allen Bunker, a member of Plein Air Painters of Maine, is based in Stoneham, Massachusetts. His art can be seen at Portland Art Gallery, Gallery At the Grand in Kennebunk, the Kelpie Gallery in South Thomaston, Delicious Designs in Hingham, Massachusetts, Masterpiece Framing in Boston, and Coco Vivo in Boothbay Harbor and Charleston, South Carolina. 

Some May Say, 2014, oil on canvas, 18” x 36” - Allen Bunker

Transition, 2005, acrylic on canvas, 30” x 24” - Bill Crosby

Beach Series 358, 2013, oil on paper on wood, 20” x 30” Tim Beavis

THE CANVAS – March 2015

By Jaime Thompson

Allen Bunker

Bunker, who worked as a contractor, would paint while on vacations to seaside locales such as Boothbay Harbor and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He loved to paint, but at the time he considered it “just a hobby,” he says. After finishing a big construction project, the crew got together for a group photograph. On a whim, Bunker decided to paint the portrait. The crew, and Bunker himself, was enthusiastic about the result: “Everyone liked what they saw. They could recognize themselves in it,” Bunker says. It was a turning point, and he began to paint “all the time.” Although he took a few lessons, Bunker has no formal training. “I like to learn on my own,” he notes. Painting en plein air was extremely important to the development of his technique and style. “When you’re painting nature, it’s real, it’s right in front of you, and you have to deal with it,” Bunker says. “It forces you to learn.”

Nautical landscapes are Bunker’s forte. The key ingredients for him include “big sky, a little bit of land, and water,” he says. His love of boating and being on the water influences his choice of subjects. His goal is to expose the raw emotion of a scene, to make the viewer feel as strongly about the landscape as Bunker does while painting it: “I’m always trying to create some kind of emotion. I’m never thinking about copying what’s out there,” Bunker explains. In Some May Say, for example, his textural brushwork has urgency, as if he fervently put all of his impressions of the scene onto the canvas before the mood dissipated. His combination of soft blues and cool grays accented by rich umber and a stripe of maroon to denote the horizon lends a peaceful quality to the painting. While Bunker admits that not all of his works are meant to impart a feeling of serenity, he welcomes whatever interpretations viewers may bring to his art: “If all of the questions are answered for you, where does the art come in?”

William Crosby

?Crosby’s artistic focus is depicting scenes from nature. As an active outdoors enthusiast, he has an abundance of memories and moments from which to gather inspiration. Nurturing talents for both photography and painting, Crosby’s knack for searching out intriguing shapes and beguiling textures within wild landscapes is uncanny. His paintings are informed and inspired by reality but are created in the abstract vernacular. “Paintings happen and develop in the studio, starting with a few basic strokes and gestures based on remembered experiences in the natural landscape,” he says.

His paintings, he explains, feature “active areas played against quiet areas.” Energetic brushstrokes of bold color are tempered with large swaths of subdued hues. In Transition, the horizon line is marked by angular strokes of white, charcoal, cobalt, and deep red that soften at the edges. The interplay of colors and textures offers a dynamic representation of the artist’s impression of an atmospheric scene. “Transition is an example of the process of moving away from reality to a more emotional, expressive gesture of confluence of the real and abstract,” Crosby explains.

Tim Beavis

“The origins of personal creativity are hard to pinpoint,” according to Beavis. However, citing an “inability to relate to the outside world,” he believes that his inclination to make art “evolved from a personal crisis.” He became an artist, he says, to give himself a voice. That intensity of purpose is deeply felt when viewing Beavis’s paintings. He primarily favors landscapes, with a focus on “the horizon line and the quality of light,” he says. Reducing his scope to these two elements allows Beavis to explore the ever-changing landscape via a specific entry point. The consistency of his compositions is not repetitive, but rather it reveals the infinite possibilities for finding beauty in simplicity.

Beach Series 358 is part of a series of works inspired by a small beach in Kittery Point. This same beach, in fact, “sold me on wanting to live in Maine,” Beavis says. In this, as in all his works, Beavis strives to convey a “sense of space,” he says. Adding to the dimensional quality of Beach Series 358, Beavis has layered paint on top of paper. In some areas the paint is thin, almost transparent, whereas in others there is a buildup of pigment. About two thirds of the picture plane is occupied by the beach itself; the ocean is a minor player in this scene. The wide expanse of sand is broken up by short, vertical marks that depict swaying strands of dune grass. Two bands of grass angle toward the middle of the piece, drawing the eye to the horizon and a sliver of brilliant blue water. What makes the horizon such a compelling focal point is the undeniable intrigue of what lies beyond.