Barry McCuan

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Every landscape has its own special timbre, harmonies of colors and textures. Each area has its own distinct dialect, nuances and contrasts. My paintings are my response to these forces; and, as in the leaves of a journal, they are a record of the places I have grown to love and of my travels to new lands. My earliest memories are of a camping trip to Pecos in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, not far from Santa Fe. For a very young boy, growing up on the flat, hot, arid plains of the Llano Estacado, the mountains were like a luscious paradise. The trees, the running water and the light, embedded themselves in my memory and it became my mission to return one day to live and paint. This memory and the influence of the Taos Founders, introduced to me by my father are part of the reason why I started to paint. For years I have painted primarily in New Mexico. The organic sculptural forms of adobes, the mountains and undulating lower ground; pinons, arroyos, fruit trees in the springtime and aspens in the fall are all a visual feast to me, but it is the clarity of light which makes all these elements so extraordinary. Since marrying a British painter, Lynne E. Windsor, I have added Europe to my painting repertoire, especially France and Italy, but also England and Scotland. The ancient stone buildings, the mountains and valleys, fields of sunflowers and lavender have at once been familiar, but refreshingly different. The land has an emotional and physical effect on me. This is why I am primarily a plein air painter. My desire is to convey in my paintings the essence of a place. Sublimating the aromas of the lavender in Southern France, the ocean smells of Florida; the fragrant marjoram as I stand on the roadside in Italy and paint a field of sunflowers or the luminescence of a late New Mexico afternoon – when the light makes that leap to another level of saturation, are all important factors. Being totally immersed in the nuances of the land is what inspires me to paint and is essential for the renewal of my spirit.

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