TREE | Glenn Suokko : Paintings
On view now at the Art Gallery at Simon Pearce in Vermont
I am often asked where I get my inspiration, how or where I create my paintings—in particular, the landscapes—and whether I work plein air or from photographs. I do neither. I paint in my studio, a space in which I love to work, a few steps away from my house. My art comes from imagination and experience, and most often I paint scenes based on what I see and retain from the land around me. Just about every painting is motivated by where I live in Vermont, a few miles outside the village of Woodstock, up in the hills, protected within a great, big, beautiful valley. It is there where I paint the land, hills, sky, clouds, and trees that inspire me.
My wife, Ann, and I take an early-morning walk—in winter we cross-country ski—just about every day of the year and sometimes again at the end of the day. It’s on our sojourns, uphill on an old dirt road, a half mile shy from our front door to our family’s cabin, and then back home on the same road, that we meet several particular trees in the meadows, along the brook, near the pond, in the orchard, and in the woods. I’ve watched many trees grow and fill out over the years, some miraculously hanging on through fierce storms, and a few of them falling to the ground. I feel I best know the old trees, each possessing its distinctive personality. After twenty-five years of observing them, their familiar images have sunk in.
In this recent series of work, I have been inspired to render trees, mostly apples, to name the type, poised on the land, connecting them to the sky above and the earth that grounds them. In the paintings, the trees suggest movement sent by a gentle breeze, the simple gestures that time creates, and the pleasing light that often surrounds them. I am interested in painting the spirit of nature where the air becomes visual as it wraps around the living forms that rise from the earth. Rather than render a specific portrait of a tree, I seek to impart the down-to-earth essence of it, or groups of them, by depicting its shape and character, as well as the mood of day, the walk, the air, and the colors of the season.