James Van Patten Paintings
James Van Patten, “Charlotte Valley Swamp”, Watercolor on paper, 24″ X 34″
Some stunning photo-realist paintings by James Van Patten are being exhibited at OK Harris Gallery in New York until January 3, 2009. These current works concern what he describes as “throwaway scenes” of marsh lands and quiet, tucked away ponds, brooks and tributaries. I was amazed to learn that most of the paintings are watercolors. I’ve rarely seen photo-realist works done in the medium of watercolor.
Aside from these being exceptional works, I also have a strong affinity to these images. I grew up near a nature preserve containing a salt marsh habitat that snowy egrets would migrate through in Maine. Prior to the English’s genocide in New England, Abenaki Indians used to occupy the marsh lands, which they called Owascoag (meaning “place of tall grass”). Salt marsh habitats are usually preserved for their rarity, but there are many other areas besides salt marshes that look like the places Van Patten’s paintings depict. Such places are normally outside the boundaries of populated centers. Too unstable or unattractive for development or commerce, these places avoid human footprints and design. The smell of the water, salt and mud in the air, the quiet that can be experienced, the crackling of the reeds and brittle grass in the wind – is this the throwaway land? These paintings are amazing.
James Van Patten, “Flood Mud”, Watercolor on paper, 10″ X 13″
James Van Patten, “Over the Edge”, Acrylic on linen, 48″ X 64″
James Van Patten, “Almost Unnoticed”, Watercolor on paper, 10″ X 13″