Intrigued by and drawn to the beauty of the South Central Texas region, artist, Eric Jacobsen returns to Washington and Fayette County on April 12th, 2019. Jacobsen visited the area a year ago and was immediately attracted to the lush rolling hills and the strong contrasting trees, silhouetted against the luminous blue sky. The famed artist, based in Oregon, is recognized and known for his paintings that are reminiscent of the Russian Impressionists. He is visiting the area to create a body of works as well as to teach a plein aire (in open air/outdoors) painting workshop on April 12th, 13th, and 14th.
Jacobsen’s love of painting on location reflects his admiration for a long line of artists whose mastery was due, at least in part, to painting directly from life. In the studio photos on the walls include one of a dapper Andrew Wyeth and a shot of New England painter Aldro Hibbard (1886-1972) standing before his easel in the snow. Nearby, Nicolai Fechin reproductions tell of Jacobsen’s love of Russian Impressionist art.
“These things remind me of my place in the historical context of painting,” the artist says. “They remind me that I’m doing something that others have done before, that I’m part of a tradition.” In particular, Jacobsen feels kinship with the landscape and maritime painters of New England, where he grew up and learned to paint. Just as importantly, he was profoundly influenced by time spent on the land and water itself, the rocky New England coast, the North Atlantic, and the woods, trails, and centuries-old farmland near his boyhood home.
Jacbosen’s visit in March of 2018 immediately excited him when he saw the dark cedars, the ancient oaks, the gentle land, and the beauty of Texas rolling out across the skyline. Before him lay a myriad of paintings waiting to be completed, a documentation of a great land, a place in time. What Jacobsen is doing, in his view, is immediately responding to the scene he’s taking in, rather than rendering it. “I’m satisfied if I get the mood down, and if I think that dialing in the
painting—adding more details—will lose the mood, I often don’t want to dial it in,” he says.
With the burst of spring in Texas, the artist feels that the season’s exuberant energy and new life can be best expressed through vibrant hues, active brush strokes, and movement in the composition. “I always think of trees as figures. As I paint them, I can hear one of my figure-drawing teachers telling me, ‘Exaggerate the pose!’ The tendency is to take the life out of it,” he says. “So I use a lot of staccato strokes and thick paint. I want the feeling of fresh spring and trees anticipating new leaves.”
Jacobsen’s New England roots also influence his particular focus within a landscape. He notes that painters he admires frequently depict everyday images—an alleyway, or a boat up on blocks in a backyard—rather than monumental scenes. In the same way, he grew up appreciating the beauty of nature in New England’s relatively intimate scale. Even now, living in and painting the West, he finds himself drawn to something as small as a tree trunk illuminated by afternoon sun, for example, or an anonymous section of mountain stream. “I’m not against grand scenes,” he reflects, “but over the years, I’ve noticed I don’t gravitate to them.”
What does animate his creative flow, along with the compelling elements of composition and light, is the experience of feeling himself settle completely into the moment as he paints from life. “I want to be right there, interacting with the scene,” he says, adding that he aspires to the same approach of being present in everything he does. “I don’t want any rehearsals in my life. I want to be honest and authentic in any situation. It’s difficult, but we can train ourselves to do it,” he says. “I think you’re giving people your best possible work if you’re painting it from your heart.”
Eric Jacbosen will teach a three day plein aire workshop on April 12th, 13th, and 14th. Enrollment is currently open for a few students to study with this master artist.
On Saturday, April 13th, The Gallery at Round Top will host a “Meet the Artist” event from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at The Gallery at Round Top on Bybee Square in Round Top, Texas. The public is invited to visit with the artist and view some of his works created while in the region. For more information call 979-249-4119 or online at email@example.com