Autumn Invitational, DoN Brewer

25th Street, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″. 2015. DoN Brewer, 2015 Autumn Invitational,  Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s

Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s Autumn Invitational 2015, DoN Brewer Paintings

Last year Togo Travalia asked me to be considered for the Autumn Invitational 2014, but I felt like I didn’t have much new work to show. Since winning the Mary Rowe Memorial kept me in the running, Togo invited me again this year and I agreed. Over the past year or so I have returned to oil painting by participating with a Meetup group to go plein air landscape painting. Painting alone in my studio doesn’t have the same energy as making the trek to a location and being prepared to paint.

When I submitted my artwork for review prior to Jody visiting my studio to select work, I explained that some of the work was in progress. The painting above looks different than the image on the postcard because we made a second visit to 25th And Washington to paint the railroad bridge columns. The big white truck was gone and bright orange barriers and a brand new Caterpillar earth mover was hulking in the middle of the landscape. Working into the maze of high wires I used the cover of Jay Z’s biography I found in the gutter as a straight edge. Hitting the brights on the columns changed the painting somewhat but I still painted loose and quickly, the atmosphere is fleeting.

Autumn Invitational, DoN Brewer

Maryland, oil on canvas, 8″ x 12″, 2014, DoN Brewer, 2015 Autumn Invitational,  Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s

Summer 2014 my friend Bob Bohne encouraged me to get out and paint with a landscape painting group. I had all the supplies to paint plein air, I had set aside painting since 2008. Being with a group of artists really helped me break out of the slump, others were struggling to see the environment and translate their vision in colors and shapes, too. The Meetup group has artists who all use different methods from times studies, to detailed small panels and canvasses, watching the progress of painters is a performance art in itself.

Painting on camping trips is part of my vacation ritual. Being able to leave a canvas out to work on over a few days connects the spirit with the landscape. My last camping trip another camper came over to watch what I was doing and said he was jealous of me doing what I loved. He could tell from across the field that I was into it. Meanwhile he had a sweet camper, nice car, handsome boyfriend and a job in Baltimore as a lawyer. Painting is kind of a luxury, even though there is a lot of preparation, the act of painting is a performance, an outward expression of our experience.

Autumn Invitational, DoN Brewer

Onieda Woods, oil on canvas, DoN Brewer, 2015 Autumn Invitational,  Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s

“IDYLLIC: Pastoral or urban, rendered in verdant or muted palettes, the paintings of DoN BREWER possess a contemplative quality that seems to wash right over you. We will start out in the woods, at Camp Oneida to be exact, the pioneering campgrounds north of Scranton and the setting for a series of the artist’s drawings and canvases.” Togo TravaliaOff the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s

Autumn Invitational, DoN Brewer

Lotus Pond, oil on panel, 24″ x 24″, DoN Brewer, 2015 Autumn Invitational,  Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s

When Jody, the curator of Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s came to visit my studio she was drawn to this older painting of the Lotus Pond at Bartram’s Garden. She liked everything about it except the frame, so I painted it my favorite color, Payne’s Grey. The transformation made the painting new again and shows my ambition and progress painting landscapes over time. The spikey branch in the painting is the Toothache Tree with a legend. “An oil extracted from the bark and follicles of the prickly-ash (both this species and Zanthoxylum clava-herculis) has been used in herbal medicine” – Wikipedia

The healing part of painting can not be underestimated, when the paint is flowing time changes and energy focusses on creation and passion, masking complications. The Lotus and the Toothache Tree are reminders of the spiritual, mental and psychological efforts and the physical challenges that must be engaged to move forward, to create art. Thank you to Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s for challenging me to make new artwork.

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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted

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