Artist Peter Devine’s watercolors are distinct from his oils in several ways. Perhaps, the prominent distinction is in the attitude toward subject. The watercolors have an immediacy resulting from direct observation that contrasts with the slowly worked oils completed in the studio. Where the oils simplify and condense as they pursue their path toward dreamlike finality, the watercolors record the irregular and the immediate. They do not discriminate in search of a hierarchy of form.
In works such as “Lobster Pound,” the coastal landscape is accepted as it is strewn with desiccated fish sheds and unkempt grass, tumbled with rusted tanks and the carcasses of forsaken wooden crates. Beyond their literal significance, this plethora of forms creates a tangled variety of surfaces reflecting and absorbing light in all varieties of weather.
Along the coast, light is in constant change. Mist laden mornings give way to crystalline afternoons. One can almost smell the change in weather as much as see it. Often, Peter will spot a place to paint and then watch it as the light affects it differently at certain points in the day. In the watercolors, actually being at the site seems to affect the paintings. In the painting “ Lobster Pound,” the light hitting the wall possessed a delicacy that few mediums could render. One needs not only technique to convey the nuance of such moments, but the patience of perception to clearly notice such minor occurrences.
The necessity to be deliberate is one of the great attractions of watercolor for Peter. Keeping the glazes clean and clear offers a pleasure unavailable in other mediums. Using the power of the white paper beneath the washes to enhance the glow of color replicates the power of natural light as it reflected from any given surface. Creating wet on wet puddles can mimetically convey lush patches of vegetation. When done right the colors of a watercolor vividly dance before the viewer’s gaze. It is essential to keep colors clear. Peter tries to keep in mind that every stroke should deliver a specific color of a specific intensity that will occupy a particular position in the illusion of space.
The most constant influence on Peter’s watercolors has been Winslow Homer. Although there have been other painters with greater bravura, none has had a keener ability to render the honest appeal of a subject. In his work, each stroke has a purpose as it contributes to the conjuring of the image. No stroke is gratuitous, flaunting its skill for its own sake.
Peter’s painting “Reggie’s House” is consistent with this earnest need for clarity. With cool clear washes he has tried to mimic the bright hillside light of a late summer afternoon. The turquoise house sits starkly before the blue sea, laundry is bright on the distant line and a shadow from the back entrance retells its shape on the back wall of the house. These are the ordinary matters of life, but, somehow, rendered into paint on paper they are the brilliant moments of our existence.
On Thursday, May 23, THE GALLERY AT FIREHOUSE SQUARE is presenting a unique opportunity for art lovers and collectors to hear from the artist Peter Devine about his masterful use of oil and water to capture the natural world on canvas. From 5:00-7:00pm that evening, guests will hear from the artist as he presents and discusses the artwork in his current exhibition “Northern Moods: Paintings of Nova Scotia.” During the two-hour event, Peter will reveal those acute observations in his natural surroundings that enable him to “get to know” the scenes he creates through oil and watercolor.
Peter will also be conducting a two-day workshop in watercolor May 31-June1 in New London. This will be a shorter version of a workshop that he has given at his studio in Nova Scotia in the past. On the first day of the workshop, the group will concentrate on indoor work and getting comfortable with the medium, while on the second day, the class will work outdoors and on-site at an inspiring location around the New London-Stonington area. Each participant will receive significant individual attention. For more information about the two-workshop with Peter Devine, please call us at 860.443.0344 or email Emily Ross, our Gallery Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or email Peter Devine directly at email@example.com.