ARTisSpectrum Vol. 31, May 2014 - page 39

ARTisSpectrum | Volume 31 | artisspectrum.com
39
Why am I a plein air painter? I think I have always been attracted to the
light, the color, and the air outside. When I paint outside, the painting, the
process and the result are more intense.
I always knew I wanted to be a painter. I have been painting since I was four.
And I was always drawn to painting outside. I studied painting at Boston
University where I received a BFA in painting, and when we had still life
arrangements set up to paint in the studio, I would often turn my easel to
the window to paint the Charles River instead.
I attended a seminar in France, ‘Art Study Giverny,’ where we painted in
Monet’s Garden on Mondays when the garden was open to gardeners and
painters and on other days of the week after the tourists left at 5 pm. During
the day we painted in other places in town and in other neighboring cities
in Normandy where Monet had painted. That experience was a changing
point in my artistic career. I feel like I inherited part of Monet’s soul!
There is something about standing barefoot on the grass looking at and
smelling what is in front of you. I often joke that the inspiration starts from
my feet and then works itself up to my brain. I smell the colors of nature
before I paint them. The act of painting is experiential, and I want to convey
the emotions I experience while being out of doors, seeing the light and
color and smelling the air on the finished canvas.
My art comes from my radical amazement at the visual world around me,
and my need to turn that visual experience into paint. Nature is my starting
point, but not my end result.
I observe nature very carefully and respond spontaneously to what I see
and feel. I think of painting as drawing in color, relating warm colors and
cool colors with each expressive paint-filled brushstroke. It’s my personal
handwriting.
I call myself a modern Abstract Impressionist. I paint outside,
en plein
air
, which lets me truly experience and feel the landscape I am painting.
Working with acrylics allows me to record my color impressions quickly,
with immediacy. I am abstract in that my goal is not to reproduce what is
in front of me, but to turn nature into something of my own: my vision,
my paint-filled brushstrokes, my emotions. I don’t paint flowers to paint
flowers. I paint flowers to paint color.
I love color. I see color everywhere. I am drawn to a specific spot for some
indefinable reason. And look and look and look. Something catches my
eye. I load up my palette, pick up a brush, holding it as a conductor would
hold his baton, and begin. At that point, I don’t speak to the canvas; instead,
the canvas speaks to me. My feet are barefoot feeling the grass; I smell the
flowers in front of me. I am transported. I paint but lose my sense of time.
Fast, faster, passionately painting, furiously painting. I cannot get the colors
down fast enough. I am at one with nature as I create. Then suddenly I need
air. I stop and stand back. The séance is over. The painting is done.  
Painting in Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, Montclair, New Jersey (photo by Michal Barkai)
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