Volume XI, Issue 46 ~ November 13-19, 2003

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8 Days a Week | Music Notes | Curtain Call | On Exhibit
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On Exhibit

Lee Boynton’s “In Praise of Thee” at Ollie Miller’s Gallery
Boynton’s ability to carry bouncing radiance from palette to paper makes his paintings vibrant and engaging.
Reviewed by Gary Pendleton

Describing his artistic ambitions, Lee Boynton quotes Claude Monet, the French master impressionist: “I want to paint like the birds sing.”

Those pretty words are more than sloganeering; they tell us that the artist’s goal is simple but profound. Fortunately for us, Annapolitan Boynton’s reach does not greatly exceed his grasp.

To Boynton, Monet’s bird songs are pure and exuberant commentaries on God’s creation. In his turn, Boynton simply wants to express his own profound response to the world he sees.

In Praise of Thee is the title of an exhibition of 30 of Boynton’s recent works now on display at the Ollie Miller’s Gallery in Lothian. The subjects are familiar ones for Boynton who is noted for his impressionist marine and landscape paintings of Chesapeake Bay and Maine.

Most are watercolors. Art enthusiasts who associate the impressionist style with oil painting may wonder about watercolor impressionism. To Boynton, impressionism is about the use of color to convey the impression of light. He is, therefore, more concerned with the colors on his palette than with brush strokes.

His innovative use of the impressionist palette in watercolor painting challenges the supremacy of oil painting. Boynton’s watercolors have all the impact of the finest oils. His vibrant and harmonious colors, whether in a brightly lit scene or in quieter paintings, have the power to reach across the room to grab the viewer’s eye.

The paintings of In Praise of Thee feature work boats along the rocky Maine coast, Chesapeake Bay sailboats and Southern Anne Arundel farm scenes of barns and buildings. In addition to his skills as a colorist, Boynton is a highly skilled and confident draftsman. His boats and buildings are exceedingly well drawn, never awkward; this gives his work the strength of authenticity.

Whether painting Chesapeake Bay, historic Annapolis or a New England fishing village, Boynton’s true subject is light.

He often fills his skies above the horizon with warm yellows and scarlet, which give way to cerulean blue. Skies are decorated with violet clouds that almost move with the wind that one senses coursing through the scene. Water in Boynton’s paintings reflects colors of the sky in patterns that reveal surfaces shaped by wind and current.

Light bounces off the boats and buildings, making those sunlit objects seem to radiate the sun’s warmth. Shadows are cool but alive with reflected light. Boynton’s ability to pick up and carry all this bouncing radiance from palette to paper makes his paintings vibrant and engaging.

In the watercolor called “Schooner Parade,” Boynton takes us inside a workshop, with models of ships lined up in the window. The miniature sails capture sunlight pouring in. Boynton is a forceful advocate of plein-air painting, meaning outdoors from life, and “Schooner Parade” is the only interior still life in the show. Even so, it departs only slightly from the others with its nautical theme and emphasis on light.

“How Great Thou Art,” one of the largest pieces in the show, is dominated by a moody sky. In it columns of light breaking through the clouds, draw attention to a sailing vessel dramatically backlit by one column that brilliantly spotlights a distant shoreline.

“Coastal Moonrise” is an intriguing nocturne portraying a Maine coastal village. The show includes some Annapolis street scenes, the Thomas Point Lighthouse and a number of local water scenes and landscapes.

Thru Nov. 22 at 11am-4pm FSa; 1-4pm Suor by appointment @ Ollie Miller’s Gallery of Fine Art, Solomons Island Rd. (Rt. 2), Lothian: 410/867-6166.

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Last updated November 13, 2003 @ 2:28am.