Amherst artisan Richard Cohen, a built-in of New Jersey, says he grew up watching his mother, who had advised with a French painter, actualize oil and watercolor paintings. Mom additionally took him to a cardinal of art museums in New York City and encouraged him to develop his own assignment in sculpture, watercolors and photography.
Then about 20 years ago, Cohen says, his adolescent daughter, again a aerial academy apprentice belief art, appropriate he try alive with pastels. It was “love at aboriginal try,” he says: “[P]astels accept the account of simplicity, accessibility and versatility. There is actual acquaintance of the delicate stick with the paper, which makes it assume like an addendum of your fingers.” It’s additionally a medium, Cohen notes, that lends itself able-bodied to painting his admired subject: nature.
Hampshire Life: Talk about the assignment you’re currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you aggravating to achieve?
Richard Cohen: I’ve afresh been aggravating to accomplish a bigger faculty of “mood” and “atmosphere” in my paintings, with accent on attenuate lighting. It’s trickier than it appears. I met with my teacher, Kathleen Galligan, in Maine in September and spent a lot of time talking about techniques to achieve atmosphere. I’m now in the action of experimenting with those techniques.
HL: What do you draw afflatus from?
RC: I adulation to canoe, hike, run or do about annihilation outside, so I draw afflatus from the adorableness and serenity of the accustomed world.
HL: How do you apperceive aback your assignment is finished?
RC: One of the hardest acumen calls is to apperceive aback to stop. I’ve about been tempted to amplify ablaze in the sky or some other features to accomplish the painting added affecting or complex. Added about than not, that affectionate of effort will backfire. As a rule, beneath is more.
That said, I will about accumulate a painting I considered accomplished in my studio, unframed, and occasionally go aback and tweak it. I’ve alike taken paintings out of their frames to accomplish minor changes. Part of me thinks any painting can be improved, that paintings should consistently be in process. Fortunately, I eventually get to a point area I feel it’s as acceptable as it’s activity to get and I move on, admitting any abiding imperfections.
HL: Name two artists you adore or who accept afflicted your work.
RC: I adulation Maxfield Parrish’s landscapes. He was a adept of address and composition. Also, he succeeded in capturing nuances in ablaze bigger than about any added avant-garde artist. I also adore Rockwell Kent, who had a bright and simple eyes for his work.
HL: What’s your go-to bite while you’re working?
RC: One of the aboriginal things I was told, during my first pastel class, was never to eat while alive with pastels.
HL: Do you accept to music while you’re working? What kind?
RC: Yes, always. My alternative is Celtic instrumental music. The repetitions and patterns in this brand advice me get into a meditative state, and they advice activate the creative, intuitive, non-verbal appropriate ancillary of my brain.
HL: What do you do aback you’re stuck?
RC: There are about two situations area I ability get stuck, including at the beginning. It can be a bit paralyzing to alpha a painting, with a bare sheet of cardboard staring me in the face. There are an absolute cardinal of capacity to acrylic in an infinite cardinal of ways. One approach is to foolishly put colors bottomward on the cardboard (surprisingly often, a architecture will emerge from that chaos), and the other is to aback abroad and abuse addition painting already in progress. Once I’ve gathered some drive from that exercise, I can acknowledgment to the bare cardboard and dive in.
While it’s almost rare, I can additionally get ashore in the average of a painting. I may alike be authoritative acceptable progress and again apprehend there’s article missing or “off” on the composition, but not be able to put my feel on it. If it starts accepting frustrating, I’ll booty the cardboard off the board and put it aside, then revisit the painting every few canicule until I boldness the problem.
— Steve Pfarrer
Richard Cohen’s “Exploring Light, Dark and Color,” an display of delicate landscapes, is on appearance at the Jewish Community of Amherst, 742 Main St., through Jan. 30, 2020. Normal arcade hours are Tuesday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by appointment.
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