Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ray Burns at Yellow Barn Gallery

Even though the air already smelled a little of the incoming Frankenstorm, Glen Echo was as usual, packed with children playing in the very cool playground there, which is usually deserted until the puppet show ends and then it is invaded by a small army of little ones.

At the Yellow Barn Gallery, Ray Burns was in the final day of his two day show, and the exhibition, which according to the artist "is the result of several years' worth of painting and exploring - exploring various locales, subject matter, painting surfaces, and media..." is a really good example of how a successful painter must continually engage a diverse set of skills and visions in order to continually expand his artistic horizon.

The show is a mixture of plein air and studio painting, and both offer vibrant examples of enviable painting skills combined for a really good eye for light and color.

The plein air paintings are excellent in that unique sense and courage that painting in nature gives artists. We see colors that a studio artist would never imagine or dare try unless he or she is out and about really observing nature and what she does with light and surface and time.

There's a legendary story that Monet was once painting out on a field, and someone approached him and observed the master recreate a natural scene in front of both of them. The observer was quiet for quite a while, but then quizzically approached the master and said: "I don't see all those colors out there..."

Monet turned around and responded, "Don't you wish you did, Madam..."

Burns, who studied at Maryland under David Driskell and Martin Puryear, and then subsequently took a plein air painting class at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with artist Dean Fisher, notes that it wasn't until he took that class that "his art took off."

The works at Glen Echo's Yellow Barn Gallery are evidence of this and are certainly evidence of a highly talented painter and observer of our world.

See more of his work here.