This week’s cover artist, Aubrey Grainger, is especially known for her plein air paintings, done on location and featuring the local area. If an East End visitor wants a good idea of the region’s beauty and diversity, one has only to look at Grainger’s landscapes that cover villages as diverse as Sag Harbor, Sagaponack and Quogue. But, of course, there are also iconic places like Wainscott Pond, Mill Creek and Corwith Farm (our cover). And we must not forget other signifying objects that Grainger paints which suggest a life style unique to this area. No, we don’t mean the beaches and mansions that usually represent the Hamptons. Instead, we mean the farms, fields, boats, trucks and produce stands that define another view of the South Fork, one that many people don’t always see.
Regardless of these varied images, there’s a sense that Grainger depicts “the real Hamptons,” one evoking a “feeling of home” and “peace and calm,” according to comments by people who know and love her work. As for Grainger herself, she characterizes her images this way: “The journal of my life is captured in my paintings. Each landscape is a record of the time I spent in a particular place and the effect that the place had on me. The shadows of the trees and the light dancing on the water are my inspiration.”
This week’s cover, “Corwith Farm,” is a good example of how the shadows from tree leaves are reflected on the side of a white building, while a water puddle reminds us that Spring is not quite here. In fact, it is that transition between seasons or between times of day that also describes Grainger’s special vision. Other examples of light transitions can be seen in her “Autumn Twilight- Sagaponack.”
Besides the effects of shadows and light, a big inspiration for Grainger is working with Plein Air Peconic, where she is an original member; it’s a group of painters/photographers that includes Casey Chalem Anderson, Susan D’Alessio, Gail Kern, Anita Kusick, Michele Margit, Gordon Matheson, Joanne Rosko, Eileen Dawn Skretch, Tom Steele, Kathryn Szoka and Ellen Watson. A collaboration between the group and the Peconic Land Trust has been most successful since its inception in 2006.
Grainger has other inspirations she has called on over the years: her love of the Hudson River School and the French and American Impressionists is a compelling one, considering that such artists were also connected intimately to the environment. Their views were romanticized versions of the settings, a concept that Grainger imbues in her own images as well. Yet the Hudson River School, particularly, embodies a contradiction. The environs are often realistic and detailed, juxtaposing two opposing forces: agriculture and the wilderness.
Grainger’s images of the East End are closer to the Hudson River School, also detailed, well composed and in some ways, controlled. But there is opposition, too, featuring wide open spaces (“Hendrickson Farm” and “Wainscott Pond”) and compression in images like “East Hampton Boats.”
Such juxtaposition fits the artist and her locale. The Hamptons are, in fact, contradictory on many levels.
Plein Air Peconic will be exhibiting at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum (200 Main Street), May 18 – July 8. The opening is May 26, 5–8 p.m. Call 631-725-0770.
Aubrey Grainger is exhibiting her work at East Hampton’s Pritam & Eames (29 Race Lane) Call 631-324-7111.
The artist’s website is www.aubreygraingerstudio.com.