Painter, Robert Bohne has exhibited his oil paintings at Artists’ House Gallery in Old City, Philadelphia four times now. His collection of recent and quite exquisite plein air paintings is a subtle yet sublime interpretation of landscapes and still life subjects. Each of the paintings has an immediacy and atmospheric naturalism that identifies the artist’s painting style. The small scale oils are richly narrative with information design and skilled brushwork. The artist’s eye is apparent in each piece especially with technical virtuosity of color and depth of field, drawing the viewer deep into the landscape or experiencing the delightful wetness of an object with expert application of paint.
Robert Bohne described the group of paintings above to DoNArTNeWs, “On this wall are some plein air work, one piece, the middle piece, of the fountain was done in Majorca Spain. The original sketch was done in Majorca and I transferred the sketch into an oil painting. The one above that is strictly out of my head, it’s a fictitious cloud, The one on the bottom is one of the piers on the Delaware River.”
“I’m always looking for the light in a painting, a good focal point, and after I find that it’s almost like a leading actor in a movie or a play, that focal point. And then after that I look for the supporting actors, which are less significant pieces of the painting, but, they lead your eye to that focal point.”
DoN thought this lobster painting looked familiar? The artist explained, “This is not the same as the one at The Plastic Club, this is the second. Actually it’s the same lobster, it’s spent a couple of months in my freezer and it came back out again and re-emmeged in another painting.”
Like impressionist masters, Bohne knows to return to his subjects repeatedly to gain the sense of realism he desires with less and less detail but infinitely more important visual information.
“This is a painting that sat around for close to a year, I wasn’t quite sure what I didn’t like about it. And then after looking at the George Bellows show just recently, I realized that what this painting needed were a couple of areas of really dramatic contrast. And it was just a matter of putting a small dot of orange and a small dot of white for highlight. And, of course, increasing the shadow area to the left of that and it made the painting pop. And it made it work”
The sense of realism yet obvious impressionism almost makes the plate of shrimp look abstract. The oil painting displays Robert Bohne‘s mastery of the medium and certainly is desirable as a work of art, at once decorative yet with a sense of narrative liveness. Working oil on board, oil on paper or academy board, each painting delights the senses with the artist’s appreciation of artistic appropriateness and style. One aspect of Robert Bohne‘s paintings is that they look really finished, professional and accessible. The paintings are not overwhelmed by a fancy frame instead complemented by surround offering a lovely collaboration of image and frame.
“Debbie West is my framer, West End Frame Shop, she’s in Media PA. Debbie and I spend a lot of time trying to find the frames that won’t overwhelm a painting. It will just become part of the painting. Presentation is a very important aspect of showing work. Presentation and editing. What I mean by editing, there’s a certain painting on the far end which was twice the size it is now. After looking at it for quite a while, I realized that if I cropped this painting in half it would be a much more dynamic composition. And would work much better. And so, this is what I ended up with and I was very pleased with that. I’m sure I’m not the first artist to do that.”, said Robert Bohne.
DoN asked the artist how he knows when a painting is finished? “I don’t know. I try not to have too much of a finished look to my paintings. I want that spontaneity to remain when the piece is finished. One of the things I really dislike is photo-realism, so I want people to see the abstract qualities and some of the spontaneity in my work. I want more of my work to have a degree of life, I want it to breathe. A good example of this is the Marigolds, this is a painting that won Best Still Life in The Philadelphia Sketch Club Small Oils show last year. As you can see, it’s not a lot of detail, very quickly painted, very spontaneous, and yet you know what it is and actually has a quality of life to it.”
Written and Photographed by DoN Brewer
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