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Mark Bohne on Painting Perceptions

By September 19, 2016Uncategorized

Marc Bohne

Marc Bohne Clearing Sky, oil on panel, 6 x 7 inches

Marc Bohne is a landscape painter from Seattle, Washington.

His website has an amazing number of exquisite landscapes. The smaller landscapes, that appear to have been made quickly from life have an immediacy in his struggle to captures the light but retain a refined color sensibility for the painting itself, not just descriptive color to confirm what we already know. What really impressed me was the inventiveness of his compositions, the careful organization and placement of the large shapes which emphasize abstract design. These don’t just seem like formal constructs, they have a look of real life but also the touch and temperament that evokes a mood and a sense of place. It is wonderful to see such well-painted landscapes that also brings such a modern sensibility. He stated in an email that he was a Ballinglen fellow (at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, Ireland)

Cattle Near Ballycastle, 12 x 10 inches

Looking through his large body of landscapes, each painting seems inventive and fresh, he rarely falls victim to formula or repeating himself. I prefer the looser, quicker and smaller works but a number of his larger and more highly realized works are quite impressive as well. The one big question I have or confusion is that I assumed the smaller paintings were done from life but after reading his artist statement I’m uncertain. He is messing with my head when he says “…I could never be a plein-air painter”

I treat my landscapes more like portraits than snapshots of a place. Portraits contain both subject and observer, and good portraits show some evidence of that intimacy. The places that interest me already seem to contain some piece of me, and I feel compelled to explore that resonance. I revisit them many times in my mind before I commit them to a painting. For this reason I could never be a plein-air painter. We all see the world through the colored glass of our particular experience and it is important for me to process my perceptions, which often need time to form.

I emailed him a few days ago and asked for more information about his process but haven’t yet heard back. Perhaps he is traveling and can clarify this question later on. If so I’ll add the info in this post.

California Hills, oil on panel, 7 x 6 inches

Also, I found some information on his bio at his Meyer East Gallery in Santa Fe that could shed more light

“I love paint,” Bohne enthuses. “If you look closely at the paintings, you see layers of colors. Step back a bit and the layers meld into abstract textures and patterns of light and dark. Step further back and a landscape subject emerges. People bring their own associative content to the landscapes, but to me they are dialogues between the visual, tactile, sensual, intellectual and emotional experiences I had in a place.”

Bohne’s “places” are ordinary locations, enlivened by passing clouds or heavy atmosphere. He discovers them by prowling around natural settings near his home in Seattle, Washington, or during road trips that last up to four weeks. His home on wheels is a Ford E150 van that has 300,000 miles, outfitted with a sleeping berth so he can spend as much time in a spot as necessary.

The Holiday, oil on panel, 7 x 6 inches

“I return to some locations repeatedly,” he says. “Other times, I glimpse something on the side of the road and hunt it down. The objective is to disconnect or minimize myself so that I see deeper into the layers of the landscape, uncovering its harmonies and dissonances, the physical and spiritual tensions. When a certain lighting effect resonates with me, I take photographs and describe the experience in my journal.”

Back in his Saltmine Studio located on the north end of Lake Washington, Bohne lets these experiences “condense, bubble and stew.” His intention is not to document actual topography but rather to reprocess his experience into universal terrain. Eschewing panoramas and dramatic contrasts, he is drawn to quiet idylls etched in narrow ranges of chroma and value.

Haze Near Rosebud, 22 x 26 inches

Albergs Hedgerow, oil on panel, 6 x 7 inches

I also enjoyed reading what he had to say about the energy of an unfinished painting…

I learned a long time ago that there is a certain energy to an unfinished painting, and have thought a lot about that phenomenon. They want you to finish them, and I find this interaction powerful. A painting is more interesting when it is interactive, requiring some participation from the observer. I have found that if I put in just enough dots, the viewer connects them and the experience can be almost conversational. It is that way while painting them, and one hopes that they contain what one puts into them. The challenge is making those dots on many levels, both on the actual surface and on the emotional and even spiritual levels if you can. I think of it like poetry…unpopular when it requires too much work but interesting and sometimes even cathartic when it asks something from the reader.

I’ll stop here and let the work speak for itself. I had a difficult time trying to decide what works to show here, there were so many. I strongly suggest you check out his website as well.

(I added the answers to some questions I emailed him earlier in the next post)

Cattle Near Eden, 18 x 20 inches

Dry Tracks, 2001, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

Fog on the Rio Grande1, 16 x 20 inches

Along The Platte, oil on panel, 6 x 7 inches

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