Dan’s Papers readers are no doubt familiar with Keith Mantell paintings, with his beautiful East End-inspired plein air work. Mantell’s latest cover depicts a beautiful winter’s day.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
It was the day after a snowstorm. I decided to see if there was any place paint worthy. After driving around a bit, I found this isolated spot overlooking Flanders Bay. The land moved up nicely into the barren trees and then into the sky. The light was crisp. The temperature cold. The colors interconnected. All the elements flowed together nicely to convey a winter day on by the bay and this is what I wound up with.
Talk about what’s special about winter on the East End.
Winter is always a quieter time which makes it easier to investigate areas that may be difficult to access when its warmer and crowded. There always seems to be interesting places to explore and convey. Driving around the North Fork in winter always reveals great visual opportunities that I try to bank in my brain or camera. The solitude of our fields and coastline in the winter, that is special. With the events of this past year, the East End is a busier place now which makes it somewhat more challenging to be an isolated artist. But I still love all the culture that this area has to offer.
Tell us about your art style and how it’s evolved or changed over the years.
Like anything: Practice, practice, practice. Put 10,000 hours in and things will naturally evolve and change. Influences come and go. Skill sets develop physically and mentally. Every day my style incrementally changes. It evolves with everything I absorb visually. Everything influences me and affects my painting. I can’t really say what my “style” is, that would be too limiting. My imagery has many different aspects, including but not limited to realism, abstraction, analytical constructivism, minimalism and paint consistency. Whether it’s a figurative piece or a landscape, there are lots of variables that influence my language of painting. The only thing that has remained constant is that I’m a two-dimensional artist!
Talk about your process.
Stretch canvas. Pick up brushes. Paint canvas. Repeat.
Actually, once I find a subject, whether it’s a figure, still life or a landscape I will spend some time deciding on the composition. Once that is set in my head, the first touch of the brush sets me in motion and I let the painting take me for the ride. I sort of know what I want to wind up with but the better paintings are the ones where the paint chooses where I go. The challenge is to make every stroke relate to each other and as a whole thereby making the painting work. I’ll hopefully wind up with a fresh spontaneous painterly unified piece if I don’t stick to a specific process.
See more of Keith Mantell’s work at the Fitzgerald Gallery in Westhampton and William Ris Gallery in Jamesport, as well as keithmantell.com.