'Plein-Air' Paintings Showcase Nature's Beauty
By Peggy Hall Kaplan
David Gallup's plein air paintings evoke the tranquil beauty of the natural world while paying homage to the Impressionist masters of the past.
Gallup has trained as a fine artist since early childhood, graduating from Otis Parsons in 1990. He is only 35 years old, but has dedicated himself to the traditional and elegant style of plein air painting, fascinated by the technique's utilization of color and light.
Plein air paintings are inspired by scenic landscape locations, presenting a realistic yet idealized view of nature. Gallup became enthralled with plein air paintings after experiencing a French Impressionist exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art several years ago.
"The moment I understood Impressionism was when, after drinking in the beauty of that (LACMA) show, I walked out and saw the sunlight playing in the grass," Gallup recalled in an interview at the Skidmore Contemporary Art gallery, where his new show is scheduled to open June 7. "Monet said the point of Impressionism is to teach people to see in a new way. That line stayed with me."
For the past ten years Gallup has concentrated on plein air painting at locations throughout California, including Malibu, Santa Barbara, Carmel and Yosemite. What is new in Gallup's work is his use of unexpected choices of color, enhancing and illuminating the traditional theme.
His most ambitious exhibition to date is a collection of glorious Impressionist images entitled "52 California Sunsets- The Waning of the Twentieth Century." During 1999, Gallup painted a different sunset several times a week, selecting one final painting from each session to represent that period of time. The result is a dramatic chronicle of the last year of the 20th Century.
The project came about through an artistic quirk. Painting the landscape near Port Hueneme, Gallup noticed the light was fading and decided, on a whim, to try and capture the image of the sunset. He had a small canvas, an 8- by 10 inch panel, and working quickly recreated the sun going down.
The result, Gallup remembered, was "a hole in one. The painting came out so beautifully I had to struggle to do that again." Gallup viewed the sunset series as a means to "leave a journal for myself. The paintings capture the passage of time."
The paintings also garnered Gallup critical acclaim, bringing him to the forefront of California Impressionism.
Although Gallup is considered young for a traditional artist, his devotion to the subject and the plein air technique have earned him recognigion among his peers. He has been made a full artist member of the California Art Club and was recently elected to it's Board of Directors.
Gallup is also part of Landscape United Nature Artists or LUNA, a non-profit group of artists who dedicate their paintings to the preservation of some of the world's most delicate ecosystems through education and museum exhibitions.
The selection of Gallup's plein air paintings at the Skidmore gallery are muted and meditative glimpses of the extraordinary landscape scenes in the Malibu area. Beaches, canyons and occasionally wildlife are captured in moments of peacefull expression.
Gallup's passion for the plein air tradition is reinforced by the positive manner his paintings are received. "There is a psychic vibe to viewing these paintings," Gallup remarked. "That journey is the development of the soul of the work."
The opening reception for "David Gallup, Recent Paintings" will be held at the Skidmore Contemporary Art gallery in the Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, June 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition will run through June 28. Call (310) 456-5070 for details.