The Truth Test
If I could choose one phrase to describe my work it would be contemporary impressionistic. Let me explain, but first, listen to the words of Virginia Trieloff, a friend who is much more versed in the subject of Impressionism:
Impressionism can be considered the first distinctly modern “ism”. Developed in Paris in the mid-1860s when scientific thought was beginning to recognize that what the eye perceived and what the brain understood were two very different things, its influence spread throughout Europe and the U.S. over the following 20 years. Painters loosened their brushwork, lightened their palettes to include pure, intense colours, and abandoned traditional linear perspective (the academic school) as they sought to capture the optical effects of light. . . to convey the passage of time . . . changes in weather . . . the sensory effect of the scene before them . . . the impression of a fleeting instant! To achieve this, the artist of the day not only began to paint the streets and everyday life of a Haussmannized Paris but went into the countryside painting en plein air. *
What a great description! It’s just the way I feel about my own work and it’s why I still have a passion for painting outdoors, en plein air as they say. Everything we see and experience is subject to our own subconscious interpretation. The illusion of a gigantic harvest sun rising over tree tops is an example. The sun doesn’t change size: our perception does. It is the impressions of the moment that motivates me to paint. When someone sees one of my paintings and is moved by the artistic statement, I really know my work is done.
Today artists have the opportunity of seeing the actual iconic paintings of the Impressionists. We can also study many modern art styles that followed: abstract expressionism, high-realism, abstraction etc. so it’s no accident that many of today’s paintings reflect these influences. Still, we are left to our own devices to explore and practice ways to express our day to day feelings about the beautiful and complex world around us. Plein air painting works for me because I get immersed in the outdoors where the shifting light and shadow, the smells and sounds carried on ethereal breezes and intense experiences of the moment can arouse memories, daydreams, feelings of longing and hope. Without a doubt, standing among the tall black spruce in the stillness of Algonquin Park never ceases to infuse me with an urge to pick up a brush and follow the energy flowing through my arm to the canvas before me.
Back in my studio I evaluate the plein air work. I choose a larger canvas where, under controlled lighting, I can expand on the energy and immediacy of the on-the-spot painting. Whether the final painting will turn out well, time will tell. But it only gets signed if-and-when I am satisfied that it is truthful.
I have never made reproductions of my work. Each painting is an original in the truest sense.
*Virginia Trieloff is a talented painter and curator. She studied Industrial Design at Surrey College of Art & Design in England (most famous alumna is Tracy Emin) and Fine Arts at OCAD in Toronto - 8 years' formal study. “I grew up with art and all the isms ... Fauvism, cubism, surrealism, expressionism and all the post isms ...”
The Art of Charles Spratt