Spori gallery features Arlene Braithwaite’s plein air paintings

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The newest installment in the Jacob Spori Art Gallery is officially open to the public. Featuring the works of Arlene Braithwaite, the gallery displays a number of plein air paintings, or landscape portraits that are created outdoors by the artist, usually in the place being captured.

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The artist reception was held March 22 and the gallery will continue to display Braithwaite’s paintings until April 26.

“In the studio, artists will often return to an earlier experienced moment,” Braithwaite says. “With the help of onsite color studies, photographs and memories, the painter re-enters a moment and once again becomes immersed in it. The studio provides less on-site distractions and unchanging light. But, because the focus is now more on the painting process rather than immediate observation, the finished work, while more refined, often appears less gestural and spontaneous than a painting done on location.”

Braithwaite says she intends for her works to capture, as well as educate viewers about the almost meditative process of plein air painting. Because of the continual movement of light and shadows, painting outdoors requires a total focus on the present.

“Even when the finished painting is not successful, and it often is not, there is almost always a sense of clarity during the process, when thoughts of past and future, worries and life’s daily distractions, completely disappear,” Braithwaite says. “Accurate observation of form, shadow, edge, color, space and surface are essential as the foundation for the artist’s mindful interpretation and creation of their new painted reality. While demanding, this process is almost always mentally regenerative.”

In the inscription just inside the gallery, Braithwaite references a quote from the Dalai Lama, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

“When I read this statement, a light went on in my head,” Braithwaite says. “It summed up the “in the moment” process of plein air painting.”

Braithwaite says she views the mindfulness of living in the moment to be a gift, something she hopes to share within the works she has chosen to display in the gallery.

Braithwaite says she views the mindfulness of living in the moment to be a gift, something she hopes to share within the works she has chosen to display in the gallery.

“In Eastern thought, this mindfulness is believed to lead to self-knowledge and wisdom,” Braithwaite says. “In Western thought, it is understood to stop mental rumination and worry, to improve physical and mental health. In this case, I feel both East and West are correct.”

Read more about Lexicons and Signals, the most recent Spori Art Gallery exhibit.