Shadow on Frankfort Barren, 1982, Neil Welliver
Last week was historically the coldest week of the year. That should be a relief, but we’ve got at least another week of subzero weather on the forecast. The whole northeast has struggled with snow and extreme cold this winter. Anyone who watches the weather recognizes this as a reprise of last year, and wonders if we’re entering an extreme cold cycle.
Unyarded Deer, Neil Welliver.
Nevertheless I generally like winter, and I particularly like the paintings of Neil Welliver.
Welliver studied at Yale with abstract painters Burgoyne Diller and Josef Albers. He went on to teach at Cooper Union, Yale, and Penn.
While teaching at Yale, Welliver dropped abstraction in favor of realistic landscape painting. In the early 1960s he began vacationing in Maine, where he began integrating figure in the landscape. In 1970 he moved permanently to Lincolnville, ME. Shortly thereafter, his mature style was born.
Welliver based his huge finished works on plein air sketches done in the wood and coastline near his home.
Study for Allagash Ice Flow, 1997, Neil Welliver.
“Painting outside in winter is not a macho thing to do. It's more difficult than that. To paint outside in the winter is painful. It hurts your hands, it hurts your feet, it hurts your ears. Painting is difficult. The paint is rigid, it's stiff, it doesn't move easily. But sometimes there are things you want and that's the only way you get them,” he said.