THE CANVAS – March 2015
By Jaime Thompson
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?”
?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.
“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.