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Monday, April 18, 2011

Erdmut Lerner--Painter of Landscapes


Some pieces of art draw me in and don't let go. Such is the case with the paintings of Erdmut Lerner. Take, for example, Summer's Ease (below).  My eyes enjoy looking at every bit of this piece...over and over...up close and at a distance. I enjoy feeling the subtleties of the colors, the delicate edges and curves of the shapes, and the overall beauty and power of the piece. Lerner's work is indeed both beautiful and powerful...beautiful in its colors and glorious shapes...powerful in its bold, yet soft, expression of the visual landscape. It is perfect. For Lerner's contributions to Still Point Art Gallery's current exhibition, Still Point III, she was named an Artist of Distinction and will show more work as a Gallery Artist for the next year.

Summer's Ease
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Although Lerner loved art from an early age, it never occurred to her  that she could be an artist. Instead she went to graduate school, earned a doctorate in English literature, then worked in the editorial offices of the Encyclopaedia Britannica

It seemed that it took the arrival of the new century to open up new directions for Erdmut Lerner. She enrolled in a landscape painting class at the Evanston Art Center in Illinois, and she was immediately riveted. In Lerner's words: The sensuousness of the paint and the soft wind around me filled me with an immense joy and a certainty of having arrived at my destination.

Learner began her artistic career as a plein-air painter, setting up her easel wherever she could find an enticing view of water, trees, or fields. A decade later she is still a painter of landscapes, but her way of representing them has become predominantly abstract.

For Lerner the painting process usually begins with looking at photos taken on travels. When a particular photo draws her attention, usually for its particular mood rather than its specific details, she begins to make exploratory sketches, often in watercolor or pencil. Eventually she moves to the easel, but before she begins to work on the canvas, she spends time trying out color schemes that will express her intentions, a process that can take several days. Once she makes her decision, often still a tentative one, she reaches for her brush and begins to sketch the scene. After a while her imagination, as though restless with the more mechanical task of copying from a photo or sketch, takes over, leading her swiftly away from the  realistic scene towards ever greater abstraction. Although at times images of trees or houses remain part of a painting, more often they become subdued, yielding to pure abstraction.

Dawn
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The Steady Breathing
of the Land

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]

I am still a landscape painter, but I don’t go out into the fields any more. Rather, the landscapes I paint do not exist in the real world; no train ticket will get you there. They emerge from inside of me, from my imagination. The process whereby they evolve is slow; I cannot rush it. But I can steer it gently, by controlling color and line, modifying and correcting. Gradually yellow mountains, lavender passages, green nights, and magenta fields make their way onto my canvases. I think of them as distillations of bedrock experiences, and, as such, expressions common to us all, be it an uneasiness about the night, a longing for safety, or the desire for a peaceful world.

Summer's Ease, 18 x 19 inches, oil on canvas. $500.
The Steady Breathing of the Land, 20 x 18 inches, oil on canvas, $500.
Dawn, 19 X 20 inches, oil on canvas, $500.


Return to Still Point Art Gallery
Still Point Art Gallery
April 17, 2011

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