The sun-flecked wheat fields of “Sisters,” Charles Bourke Wildbank’s sweet-innocence welcome-to-summer cover art earlier this season yields now to full summer in Wildbank’s 4’x5’ acrylic on canvas “Hamptons Weekend,” a colorful seafood painting just in time to pay tribute to Dan’s Papers Taste of Summer events July 17 and 18.
A blue platter peeks out of a succulent spread of oysters, shrimp and clams. Two boldly colored lemon wedges center the shimmering forefront composition, and a half glass of white wine, on the same large scale as the platter of food, reflects a blurry image of grasses in the background, but on a smaller scale—a row of bleached blade wisps that carry through the yellow of the lemons, and a row of rich green spikes beyond that, which sustain and enhance the theme of fecundity. A smaller-scale wooden ramp angles off the platter, as if it were a handle, and the ramp, in turn, directs the viewer to the painting’s high horizon line where a sandy shore in the far distance, houses indistinct along a sandy strip, separates blue sky and water. “Hamptons Weekend” provides three paintings as one, different styles, different objects and different perspectives.
Unlike “Sisters,” a meticulously painted realistic scene, the most prominent part of “Hamptons Weekend” (indeed, the lower two thirds of the canvas) suggests a more impressionistic Charles Bourke Wildbank, yet the painting as a whole shows you engaging in both styles and imaginatively combining them by way of contrasting scale.
What were your thoughts or feelings as you determined to render the upper part of the painting in detailed brushwork and the major part of the painting, the sensually inviting platter of food, in a freer, looser manner?
The painting’s subject matter was hyped up to bring any of the elements into surreal focus. I prefer to amplify colors as they appear, just to reflect the emotional engagement of the actual event, as if to entice the viewer. Sharpness of detail is employed as if to draw the viewer into the art. I paint many venues that cross my path…It is one of those extremely rare moments that I would say, “this is it” and paint that as a whole new period. That would be my surreal ocean scenes. There could be another new period or shore to embark upon and take off from. It [analyzing possible motives or sensations in doing a particular painting] is never shared until its manifestation is complete so as not to have it elude the artist when comments become premature and possibly spoil it. The muse defines a special relationship between intuition and execution, and naturally the artist becomes protective and reverent about it. Painting scenes and subjects comes naturally, and the artist’s signature oozes with each stroke. It is more through feeling than through thought.
What was the inspiration or prompt for “Hamptons Weekend?”
The collector/host commissioned me to do a colorful still life picnic at his family’s waterfront home in the Hamptons. The object was to capture this ideal, wonderful fare. We made sure to open the wine, or that afternoon in the Hamptons among guests would not have been complete. The host wanted an artist to show up to capture the color and textures on a large canvas, so as to suspend that moment indelibly on the wall of that home.
Charles Bourke Wildbank’s work was recently featured at ArtSouthampton with the McNeill Group. Wildbank’s work is currently on exhibit at the Jedediah Hawkins Gallery at 400 South Jamesport Avenue through August 15. wildbank.com