There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is a glorious heaping of cadmium yellow oil pigment on the tip of an artist’s brush stroked on a stretched linen canvas in a manner that shows freedom.
Freedom of expression through impressionistic art is a movement that began in the 1800s by Parisians Monet and Renoir, the original painters of light. They used layers of visible brush strokes and enjoyed painting en plein air (on the spot) to capture the endless emotions of light’s ever-changing qualities. Friends sharing a common love of painting, a oneness with light in nature, and an organized resistance to the purely academic norms of the craft, gave birth to the Impressionist movement and encouraged its spread to America.
The American Impressionist Society (AIS) is coming to Charleston to present its Fifth Annual Small Works Showcase. After a year of dark times, I know that I’m not alone when I say “show me the light!”
According to Liz Ahrens, executive director of the AIS, artists from all over the country were juried into this year’s exhibition which will open on Thursday, April 1, at Reinert Fine Art, 179 and 181 King Street.
“AIS accepted 1,357 submitted works in oil, pastel, watercolor, acrylic, gouache and casein. Five jurors scored the entries and 154 works were juried into the final exhibition,” which will be on display until April 30, said Ahrens. Reinert’s gallery is a great venue to
showcase this event.
“Ours is an open air environment with 4,000 square feet of fine art in breezy spaces” said Jason Stone, the gallery’s director. “We are open seven days a week and our gallery includes a large outdoor courtyard” to host artists and collectors.
Impressionistic works are particularly pleasing to the social distant requirements imposed by COVID-19, because, unlike its artistic predecessor realism, impressionism is characterized by loose brushwork, which is most impressive from a distance.
Guests can literally step into the light from April 1-3 when AIS hosts a Paint Out — an event where artists paint en plein air on location and their completed works will be available for purchase one day only, Saturday, April 3, from 2-6 p.m. at Reinert gallery.
The featured locations are Gibbes Museum gardens on April 1 and Magnolia Plantation on April 2. Artists will also paint at Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant and throughout the historic districts of Charleston.
“Watching an artist capture a seasonal view and then purchasing that painting is just such a joy both for the artist and the collector,” noted Ahrens. “The challenges of painting outdoors, including fast-changing light, wind and insects, makes a Paint Out like a spectator sport ... you never know what might happen! But you know you’ll see some remarkable paintings at the end of the day!”
Artists can apply for membership and guests can find more details online at americanimpressionistsociety.org. Interested art lovers and collectors can view the work of participating AIS masters, including that of Roger Dale Brown, master and judge of the Small Works Showcase Awards, who is represented full-time at ReintertFineArt.com.
Let there be light!
Heather MacQueen Jones is a Daniel Island artist journaling life’s journey through oil painting. Follow her stories on Instagram @heARTpalette or MacQueenJones.com.