Informed by Nature
In his pursuit of artistic truth, painter Lynn Boggess has taken plein air to an extreme level of dedication. “What I’m looking for out there is the energy and the light, and to act on the impulses I have with the paint,” he says. “It’s about capturing the experience of nature.”
Boggess, who owns a 120-acre wilderness tract in West Virginia, often ventures out into the dense countryside with huge canvases measuring as large as 48 inches wide, which he sets up on an easel under a makeshift shelter that he builds on site. It’s very much off-road plein air done on an immense scale. This method of painting is not without its risks—“I’ve left paintings outdoors for days at a time,” he says. “Oil paint is quite resilient. Just knock the snow off and you’re good to go.”—but it’s the only way that puts the artist this close to his subject matter.
“If you’re painting a landscape in a studio with four walls, I just don’t know how that is done well. Some artists pull it off, but there is no substitute for being outside. It’s a heck of a lot of work to get there, especially on the scale that I work, but it’s real, not artificial. And that’s important,” he says. “I’m looking for that authentic experience to inform my paint. There are hundreds of reasons not to go out and do it this way, but from the get-go I’ve insisted that this would be the way to do it, no matter the size of my canvas.”
Boggess uses a palette knife exclusively and he layers the paint on thick, creating luscious impasto surfaces. “I’m looking for this spontaneous and intuitive power of paint. When you have to stop and wipe and clean the brush it slows the process down,”