Friday, November 27, 2015

Marc Bohne

January 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured Posts, landscape painting

Marc Bohne Clearing Sky, oil on panel, 6 x 7 inches

Marc Bohne is a landscape painter from Seattle, Washington who shows at the Craig Krull Gallery in LA and will be having a show there this May. He also shows at the Meyer East Gallery in Santa Fe and a few other venues.

His website has an amazing number of exquisite landscapes. The smaller landscapes, that appear to have been made quickly from life have an immediacy in his struggle to captures the light but retain a refined color sensibility for the painting itself, not just descriptive color to confirm what we already know. What really impressed me was the inventiveness of his compositions, the careful organization and placement of the large shapes which emphasize abstract design. These don’t just seem like formal constructs, they have a look of real life but also the touch and temperament that evokes a mood and a sense of place. It is wonderful to see such well-painted landscapes that also brings such a modern sensibility. He stated in an email that he was a Ballinglen fellow (at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, Ireland)

Cattle Near Ballycastle, 12 x 10 inches

Looking through his large body of landscapes, each painting seems inventive and fresh, he rarely falls victim to formula or repeating himself. I prefer the looser, quicker and smaller works but a number of his larger and more highly realized works are quite impressive as well. The one big question I have or confusion is that I assumed the smaller paintings were done from life but after reading his artist statement I’m uncertain. He is messing with my head when he says “…I could never be a plein-air painter”

I treat my landscapes more like portraits than snapshots of a place. Portraits contain both subject and observer, and good portraits show some evidence of that intimacy. The places that interest me already seem to contain some piece of me, and I feel compelled to explore that resonance. I revisit them many times in my mind before I commit them to a painting. For this reason I could never be a plein-air painter. We all see the world through the colored glass of our particular experience and it is important for me to process my perceptions, which often need time to form.

I emailed him a few days ago and asked for more information about his process but haven’t yet heard back. Perhaps he is traveling and can clarify this question later on. If so I’ll add the info in this post.

California Hills, oil on panel, 7 x 6 inches

Also, I found some information on his bio at his Meyer East Gallery in Santa Fe that could shed more light

“I love paint,” Bohne enthuses. “If you look closely at the paintings, you see layers of colors. Step back a bit and the layers meld into abstract textures and patterns of light and dark. Step further back and a landscape subject emerges. People bring their own associative content to the landscapes, but to me they are dialogues between the visual, tactile, sensual, intellectual and emotional experiences I had in a place.”

Bohne’s “places” are ordinary locations, enlivened by passing clouds or heavy atmosphere. He discovers them by prowling around natural settings near his home in Seattle, Washington, or during road trips that last up to four weeks. His home on wheels is a Ford E150 van that has 300,000 miles, outfitted with a sleeping berth so he can spend as much time in a spot as necessary.

The Holiday, oil on panel, 7 x 6 inches

“I return to some locations repeatedly,” he says. “Other times, I glimpse something on the side of the road and hunt it down. The objective is to disconnect or minimize myself so that I see deeper into the layers of the landscape, uncovering its harmonies and dissonances, the physical and spiritual tensions. When a certain lighting effect resonates with me, I take photographs and describe the experience in my journal.”

Back in his Saltmine Studio located on the north end of Lake Washington, Bohne lets these experiences “condense, bubble and stew.” His intention is not to document actual topography but rather to reprocess his experience into universal terrain. Eschewing panoramas and dramatic contrasts, he is drawn to quiet idylls etched in narrow ranges of chroma and value.

Haze Near Rosebud, 22 x 26 inches

Albergs Hedgerow, oil on panel, 6 x 7 inches

I also enjoyed reading what he had to say about the energy of an unfinished painting…

I learned a long time ago that there is a certain energy to an unfinished painting, and have thought a lot about that phenomenon. They want you to finish them, and I find this interaction powerful. A painting is more interesting when it is interactive, requiring some participation from the observer. I have found that if I put in just enough dots, the viewer connects them and the experience can be almost conversational. It is that way while painting them, and one hopes that they contain what one puts into them. The challenge is making those dots on many levels, both on the actual surface and on the emotional and even spiritual levels if you can. I think of it like poetry…unpopular when it requires too much work but interesting and sometimes even cathartic when it asks something from the reader.

I’ll stop here and let the work speak for itself. I had a difficult time trying to decide what works to show here, there were so many. I strongly suggest you check out his website as well.

(I added the answers to some questions I emailed him earlier in the next post)

Cattle Near Eden, 18 x 20 inches

Dry Tracks, 2001, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

Fog on the Rio Grande1, 16 x 20 inches

Along The Platte, oil on panel, 6 x 7 inches

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23 Responses to “Marc Bohne”
  1. Neil Plotkin says:

    Nice to see this work and the idea of leaving things unfinished so that the viewer can participate in the work is very compelling – similar to Diarmuid Kelley in some of Kelley’s works. The paintings remind me of Michael Workman ( Though, I do find Mark Bohne’s work to be less commercial looking. I’m not sure why – perhaps because it’s more painterly or perhaps at times the landscapes are more abstract. Some of the work also reminds me of the American Tonalist, Chauncey Ryder, in the application of the paint (heavily loaded brush) especially the last work that you’ve posted. Thank you for bringing him to my attention.

  2. jade says:

    he’s a little mysterious, isnt he? he says he has a bed in the van so that he can spend as much time as necessary on location, but could never be a plein air painter. I think I know what he means, as I can see the emotion put into his work, and that would take time (it seems to me).

    It would be great to hear more about his process. I can see lots of layers, so that would be hard to do on location in oils (without a lot of waiting time), but on the other hand, they are mostly very small paintings.

    thanks for posting this, larry!

  3. On a web browser all these things drift toward the same scale in reproduction. But these little 6 x 7 paintings are very powerfully composed and one can’t help but yearn to see their monumental relationships enlarged on some really huge canvases.

    I find the color relationships in ‘California Hills’ and ‘Along the Platte’ particularly sophisticated.

    • Larry says:

      Marc wrote me again to say he is currently redesigning his website and should relaunch next week. He states the site should be a big improvement and says:
      “i will be updating a lot of images, including a bunch that are larger paintings not currently on the archive. there are many, and i have to sort through them. i think your readers are under the impression that i only do small ones, but i have quite a few large ones. the new site will have a place for those, and i am hoping to get larger higher resolution images for them as well”

  4. Valentino says:

    Thanks for this interview Larry. Bohne has been one of my favorite contemporary American landscapists for years. What sets him apart of the rest of the scene is his highly developed composition sense, coupled with the feeling for color and values.
    In most cases painters tend to emphasize either colors (colorists) or tones (tonalists), but few manage to successfully link both. Bohne does.

    • Larry says:

      Valentino, Actually it was your suggestion that led me to Marc’s work to begin with. I had meant to do an article a long time ago on him but I got side-tracked. Thanks for turning me on to such a good painter.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I truly agree with Valentino. I think Marc manages to combine the whole lot of it in his paintings, providing layer upon layer of “stuff” to notice and see both close up and from afar, texture, color, tone, and compositional games. His paintings provide observational joy on so many levels. I was in Meyer East just over a year ago where I saw his work for the first time, scribbling his name on a piece of paper to look up afterwards. Well done for the post and feedback from Marc!

  6. Valentino says:

    I visited Marc’s revamped web site and have to say that, despite his words, the pics are not much larger than they were before. I think they’re actually the same size. Pity.

  7. Lauren says:

    I haven’t seen any landscapes better than these in a long time. Thanks for your wonderful selection of painters!

  8. sue lehman says:

    you stayed at our b and b in massachusetts in october and we never met-your website was given to me by the other guests- very beautiful pictures- I enjoyed the website- hopefully you willmove here and give new england a try.
    all the best,

  9. Carolyn says:

    Hi Larry,

    I thought you and others here would be interested to know that Marc Bohne now has a Facebook page for his studio:

    Click on the Like button if you want to receive updates in your Facebook news feed.

    @Sue Lehman — Sorry we did not have the chance to meet you. Very nice B&B!


  10. tedbohne says:

    he was born like this. i’m his brother

  11. Ed Cahill says:

    As a plein air painter I am drawn to theses light filled works but I appreciate the less slick approach that is the result of his different set of goals and experiences. Quite a lot of successful plein air artist were once illustrators and will never shake that slick look. Having said this I would urge “gallery painters” to not dismiss the beauty and skill evident in some of the best examples—some of us show a bit of angst too.

  12. Larry, Thanks for these wonderful interviews. I am very drawn to these works in particular. My favorite is the unfinished one called “Albergs Hedgerow”. It is simple but extremely eloquent and thoughtful in its linking and interlocking shapes.It almost feels woven and there is a lot of depth.

  13. are Marcs paintings done from photographs ?

  14. Are they made from photos then?

  15. that is very very clever then wow

  16. He must have taken plenty of verbal written observations down,as i can’t see how he could paint these so amazingly beautifully just from memory.Also he may have made sketches?

    • Jeanie Bartholomew says:

      The idea of photographing a scene that inspires you is important, I think. The painting will not be the same. I would imagine Marc would combine all the senses. Stand in the environment and feel it, smell it, look and continue looking for those items that make you feel deep. The take the mental picture of it all. What did you remember most? The glint of light in the tree tops, the low resting fog, the swirl of the rounded hills… These things combined with knowing the sense of beauty that you can hold within. Then back at the easel, empty the bag, the contents of your mind, body, and spirit. It’s very exciting. I totally see it in his work and I am thoughly inspired!

  17. Marc Bohne says:

    as much as i wanted to do larger images, here is the main reason why we did not. currently there are images of my paintings being poached by illegal printers, being sold on the web as we speak. just learned about a new one, and lo and behold, they are printing posters of paintings of mine and selling them without permission. the site is called i will try to put the link in here for the petition to block that site.

    i encourage everyone to sign this petition, and pass it around.

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