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ray abell

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The idea for many of my nature paintings was started at the Shenandoah National Park while hiking the trails with my wife Millie. We go to the park during all four seasons.

Old woods, young woods, meadows, split rail fences, open vistas, mountain peaks, falls, rolling hills, quiet woodlands.


I find inspiration mainly in the country.  My work draws from walks in nature where some of the objects, patterns and colors I find that motivate me include: decaying trees, dried-out cicadas, moss covered rock, stagnant water, jagged lightening-struck tree bark.

I bring a camera and a sketchbook with me, taking pictures and making small sketches or paintings and writing notes.  Back at the studio I work from the photos and sketches and begin to create three to five paintings at a time. I use mainly acrylics because they dry fast and I can build up layers without muddying the painting’s foundation.  I also incorporate (sometimes) pastels and graphite into my paintings which enables me to gradually build and layer my works, giving them texture and depth.  Some of my work is painted as a series, but while intended as a composite the paintings can work together or alone.

I spent three years in Saudi Arabia.  The desert has a special attraction to me; even now I look at sketches and photographs and paint from them.  Some of the things that motivate me include: red and white sands; smooth and sharp rocks; mountain ranges; stillness; solitude; hot winds; the feel of dry desert heat; the smell of desert dust; the scent of dry and wet rocks.

I’m trying to paint the feeling of walking through nature.  I want to trigger the smells of grass, trees and rocks when dry and when wet.  I want to imitate the sounds of dried and wet leaves.  I want to capture the play of sunlight on soil, water and air.  This is part of the essence of nature to me.  The closeness to nature.

There is a quote by Alan Watts I follow:  “But I’ll tell you what hermits realize.  If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”   

I like to “push” my paintings from what I see to what I feel – that’s why I do abstractions.

Copyright  © 2010 Ray Abell.