The work of Eileen Dawn Skretch is highly influenced by life on the East End. She was born and raised in Southampton. “My family were farmers and fishing was part of life,” says Skretch. “Practical interaction with the environment felt like a natural segue to landscape painting. When I began to paint en plein air and on wood, all was right in my universe.”
What was the particular inspiration for this piece and its title, “Touching the Sky?”
While preparing for a show with Plein Air Peconic, a group of artists that supports The Peconic Land Trust and its conservation efforts, at one of the Trust’s preserved sites, Wölffer Estate Vineyard, I was taken by the gentle rise of the rows of grapes and the patterns they form in the sunlight. As I painted the scene I felt the plants stretching upwards, trying to touch the sky.
Although many of my paintings begin with painting on site, en plain air, this painting began with my camera and notes on color. In studio, a 4”x6” painted sketch confirmed my design. Next, I needed to find a section of my stock of birch veneered plywood where the grain imitated the scene I planned, forming my drawing in the wood. Once the right section of grain was found I cut the 4’x8’ sheet of plywood down to the 3’x4’ size of this painting, braced the sheet for structural integrity, and finally sanded and sealed the panel. I work in oils.
Now that summer has wound down, what are you most looking forward to about the fall?
Less traffic! Easier traveling on the East End and cooler weather encourages me to paint outside. Although I love the mists of summer that humidity brings, the cooler weather lends a crispness to the colors of our landscapes.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Monet or van Gogh. They each had a unique way of working with color and light, making the air come alive. Interpreting those categories and how the paintbrush decides to move across their canvas would be a great conversation.
What else would you like readers to know about your work?
See my paintings in person! Although the wood is visible in some of the images, the influence of the wood’s grain on the mood and depth of the work and the interplay in the paintings with the day’s light is best experienced in person.
Where can readers see more of your work?
Visit my website eileendawnskretch.com and feel free to contact me to visit my studio in Southampton. This fall I’m exhibiting at The Water Mill Museum, 41 Old Mill Road, Water Mill, in a group show, Summer Finale, through October 1. I’ll also be in the 4th Hamptons Plein Air Invitational at Ashawagh Hall, 780 Springs Fireplace Road, East Hampton, October 6–14. Public reception is Saturday, October 13, 5–7 p.m. Artists will be painting at many locations in East Hampton and Springs that week. The William Ris Gallery, 1291 Main Road, Jamesport, always has a number of my paintings on view.