Dan’s Cover Artist Casey Chalem Anderson Talks Plein Air & Flowers

Casey Chalem Anderson "Balsam Farms Flower Rows" (2019, oil on canvas, 24" x 36")
Casey Chalem Anderson’s “Balsam Farms Flower Rows” (2019, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″)

This week’s cover art comes to us from Casey Chalem Anderson — marking her 11th Dan’s Papers cover to date. Here, she discusses her annual search for flower fields to paint, the plein air experience and developing her colorful art style.

Casey Chalem Anderson
Casey Chalem AndersonBarbara Lassen

A CHAT WITH CASEY CHALEM ANDERSON

Tell us about the inspiration and creation of “Balsam Farms Flower Rows.”

This spot is one of the most glorious on the East End. The first time I saw this explosion of color stretching out as far as the eye could see, I was stunned. I could not believe such a place was right here in Amagansett, only a few miles from the ocean. The entire farm was donated by Deborah Ann Light to the Peconic Land Trust and is a preserved property. They have an excellent farm stand where you can get vegetables, bread, pies and bouquets of fresh flowers straight out of the field.

The field stretches out and sweeps across; your vision takes in the entirety. Your peripheral vision is filled to the brim. The flower field is a sea of color, dotted with dabs of scarlet, pink, olive and jade. We view it as a bird would, skimming and racing across the tops of sticky weeds, skirting the buzzing insects and stretching our eyes into the distance as far as they will take us. There is ease and freedom as the eye flows across swiftly.

There is an awareness that the flowers are fleeting; they come with an expiration date. There is a real urgency to drink in the beauty before it’s gone forever. Flowers remind us that every moment we have is all you’ll ever have.

If you take it for granted, even for a moment, you risk losing what’s essential, the thrill of their momentary existence. All you can do to hold on is preserve the land, and by doing that, hold space for the flowers to return.

When you visit East End locales like Balsam Farms, do you search for inspiration, or does inspiration find you?

Every summer, I search for flower fields to paint because they make everyone feel so good. The explosion of color lifts your spirits. I get so excited to get out there and paint what I see and feel. Each year is different. There is no guarantee that the flower field you saw last year will return, so capturing it in paint while it is happening is crucial.

Observing the constant motion of ocean waves is a year-round activity. I love getting down to the shoreline and seeing what is happening; it’s never the same wave twice. I look for the movement.

How does your creative process change as the weather gets warmer?

Painting plein air is intense. The heat, the bugs, the wind and schlepping the painting equipment are challenging but well worth it. A small painting done in the field will generate many large pieces I create in my studio. Sometimes I risk blowing away in the wind and paint a more significant piece outside- you have to work quickly, but the pressure is exhilarating.

Casey Chalem Anderson "Lime Surf" (2020, oil on canvas, 24" x 48")
Casey Chalem Anderson’s “Lime Surf” (2020, oil on canvas, 24″ x 48″)

How did you develop your art style?

I was introduced to oil painting at the High School of Art and Design in NYC. We were taught a primary palette and approach; it was a good start. In college at the University of California, Berkeley, I was an art major and primarily painted figures as all my accomplished professors were Bay Area Figurative School members. But once I moved to the Hamptons, observing the landscape became my obsession, especially the ever-changing colors of the sky and water.

Over the years, I’ve developed my style and continue to explore new ways of getting the paint onto the canvas. I use high-quality brushes to describe specific areas. Then, I use cotton rags, rubber-tipped implements and ragged worn brushes for special effects. I will sometimes even paint with my fingers (gloved, of course).

Color is enthralling for me and central to my expression as a painter. Whether painting an ocean wave or a field of flowers, I’m always on the hunt to make new color combinations that resonate. I use only the highest quality oil paint. This allows me an enormous range of transparent and opaque colors and confidence that the painting will last hundreds of years.

What artistic accomplishment are you most proud of?

It’s always the painting currently on the easel that has me engrossed. That’s the painting that grips my imagination and dominates my thoughts.

The most compelling show I’ve had was just me, Fairfield Porter and Neil Welliver. I was honored to show with such esteemed artists. Also, it’s pretty cool to have my 11th cover on Dan’s Papers!

See more of Casey Chalem Anderson’s art on Instagram @CaseyChalemAnderson and at caseyart.com. Her work can also be seen in Reboli Art Center’s Bloom exhibition through July 10 (64 Main Street, Stony Brook), at Romany Kramoris Gallery July 7–28 (41 Main Street, Sag Harbor) and at Sea Green Designs indefinitely (68 Jobs Lane, Southampton). Museum-quality prints of “Balsam Farms Flower Rows” are available at artfullywalls.com/art-prints/product/flower-rows-in-the-field-12198.

June 24, 2022 Dan's Papers cover art by Casey Chalem Anderson
June 24, 2022 Dan’s Papers cover art by Casey Chalem Anderson

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