Disappointed by change of artistic direction
A Year Times Two at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art
It is always disappointing when an artist who can produce fine work changes direction and the result affects their work detrimentally.
So it is with oil painter Rhona Emmerson, who is currently part of a two-person show with Chris Marson at the Rick Faries Gallery.
Her decision to use a palette knife exclusively, instead of a brush, I think weakens the impact of her vision and sacrifices finesse.
The small trowel-like instrument allows paint to be applied thickly and is a great device to produce some beautiful textural effects with sculptural swirls of impasto marks on the canvas.
A little variation — and more random types of palette knife marks from thick to thin — throughout her 14 medium to large-scale landscapes and seascapes, would help immensely.
Emmerson's paintings have admirable ambition. However the red building in The Great Sound in the left foreground is painted just too emphatically, denying the eye access into the picture.
The artist — a keen en plein air painter — demonstrates a good facility to create atmosphere in a painting, especially through the use of colour temperature.
Pink Magic is a successful painting that captures evening light as well as the warm hues of the towering cloudscape above water and distant land. It succeeds because the mode of painting has changed, and is loosened by a softer touch.
Summers Colours is also an evocative painting of the sunset over inland water with a house in the foreground.
Chris Marson uses his preferred medium of watercolour. Incidentally, it is a pleasure to see a better quality moulding on his work for finer framing presentation.
He has a fine awareness of edges and the “whole” picture, both in terms of design and technique, and generally draws well. These qualities are evident in Chimneys, Chimneys, Chimneys, an investigation of the rooftop geometry, and the yacht in No Carbon Here.
The artist utilises change in tone and the converging lines of the ocean and shore in the atmospheric Mid-Ocean Beach, to produce the dynamic perspective he seeks.
However, design, at times, could be strengthened.
Often it is small points that can make a big difference to a painting's composition.
For example, two buoys in Somerset Morning are positioned perpendicularly above each other. Also, the foreground buoy is smaller than the furthest one at the picture's focal point. It has the effect of confusing scale.
It is an example of how artistic licence is sometimes a necessity to resolve potential conflict in relative sizes and shapes to effect a better reading of the painting.
At times Marson uses watercolour paint quite densely, and chooses opaque pigments for rich, dense colour.
The pale and sketchy Morning, St George's is still a pleasing piece of a lane in the Olde Towne.
Marson enjoys painting restful scenes of boats and tranquil water where the resultant shadow play lends a contemplative and mysterious stillness to scenes where the march of time seems to have slowed to a crawl.
The show runs until June 7 at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.