Turner and Plein Air

Once again the De Young Museum has served up a much needed dose of artistic nourishment.The current exhibit, JMW Turner, Painting Set Free, which chronicles the last period of Turner's career from 1835-1850 is a must see. 

While Turner had almost photojournalistic intentions , what stands out for me is the degree to which details get lost in the swirl of air and sea. The paintings completely transcend the specific and become about the experience of light and atmosphere.

Turner famously claimed to have strapped himself to the mast of a ship during a violent storm in order to fully experience the elements.  Perhaps inspired by this act, Monet supposedly tied his easel down to withstand a snow storm. 

JMW Turner, (detail)  Painting Set Free Exhibit  De Young Museum, San Francisco

JMW Turner, (detail)  Painting Set Free Exhibit  De Young Museum, San Francisco

 

While I am cautiously working my way up to such heroics, I have greatly benefited from a return to plein air this year. With my trusty french easel, I have been encountering my share of fog, wind, and harsh sun. With apologies to Turner, I will say that before I strap myself to a container ship in the Bay I will be taking advantage of some great spots in San Francisco (on land) to observe the effects of atmosphere.

overlooking Glen Canyon at Marietta Drive.

overlooking Glen Canyon at Marietta Drive.