Artist and blogger Loriann Signori, of Silver Springs, Maryland, is committed to plein air practice in her painting. The one thing that strikes me first about her landscapes is the freshness of her vision. I asked her about her art direction and methods.
Daybreak at Hawksbill Peak
26" x 32"
Pastel and Oil on Marble Dust Board
26" x 32"
Pastel and Oil on Marble Dust Board
Pastel: What is your motivation for plein air painting?
For me, plein air painting is a passion. There is no place that I feel better, more at home, than being outdoors. To live I need to be connected to the earth, air, and water to feel solid. I have been painting outdoors since I was in my teens… I’d say that is a long time. Like the enduring postman, I am outside in any weather, working. Happy.
Buttercups in May
Pastel: Say a few words about the Towpath. What excites you artistically about this subject?
In my life I have found that I resonate to the idea of making a series of paintings. At many different points I have found a series to be pivotal. For the past 3 years it has been the river and nearby reservoir that is my muse. Long ago, when studying for my MFA it was mums. Then I painted only a pot of yellow mums every day for 2 years. Back when I was in my teens, it was a laundry basket full of multi-colored clothes. One might think it would get tiring. But no, in fact, for me, it is what sets me free.
I find I can easily become a victim of painting “things.” But when I am in a series I get beyond whatever is my subject matter. Instead it is about the feeling, the color and my passion for making art. Each day when I go outside to paint I search for a way to describe the intangible ideas of atmosphere, emotion and poetry. It is a search I will have my whole life.
Pastel: Do you have a particular palette right now?
As for the more pragmatic – I must own a million pastels. The workhorses are Unisons and Girault. I also add selected sticks from Schminke, Terry Ludwig, Diane Townsend, Mount Vision and even a couple NuPastels. I make a yearly pilgrimage to Dakota Pastels in Washington to try and buy. It’s a great place for a pastel artist.
They have it all there to see and touch…like a kingdom of the gods. You are so lucky to live in driving distance. My watercolor palette contains the usual suspects: ultramarine, cobalt and peacock blues, lemon and cad yellow, alizarin crimson and opera (love this one – great grays and vibrant oranges can be made), Payne’s gray, all in Holbein and Windsor Newton. Oils are similar and made by Gamblin and Holbein.
Pastel: Who are your inspirations?
For the last 3 years I have been studying and dreaming of the great masters of space: the Hudson River painters, Sanford Gifford, Frederic Church, George Inness (who later branched away from that school) and the Romantic landscape painter, J.M.W.Turner. As a discipline for learning I started my blog and have created one painting each day. I call them my vitamins. They help me to grow stronger each day.
The living artists I admire most are Richard McKinley (I can’t say enough good about him), Elizabeth Mowry, Mary Sipp Green, Joseph McGurl and Jane Bloodgood- Abrams. While I am a pastel painter I look to all mediums. It is the feeling that I seek no matter the vehicle. One reviewer has described me as a “poetic realist.” I like that description.
Pastel: What paper do you like to use?
For a surface I use two different ones, depending on the need. I have developed a love of Uart paper (400) and I make my own gator board /marble dust supports for work in the studio and sometimes on location.
Pastel: Anything more you'd like to tell us?
As to my “style,” my plein air goal is to use a paucity of marks. How few strokes can I make and say what I need to say? It helps that I use a watercolor underpainting which creates the underlying skeleton of color. I find it harder to have the same goal in the studio. There I get wrapped up in the richness of pigment, layered and vibrating.
On another note, I feel very fortunate to live where I do. Washington, DC (a few miles from my house) has a plethora of unbeatable, free museums. When I feel stuck, I head downtown to visit a friend (painting) for inspiration. And even though this is a metropolitan area we have (most importantly) the Potomac River and 185 miles of undeniable access through our wonderful towpath. It is such a gift to have such a treasure chest of painting sights right at my door. I feel I never have to go anywhere. Ever time I go it looks different.
Lorian Signori's Painting-a-Day