Oil painting by West Fraser
West Fraser was making one of his regular trips to Maine to paint when he came upon a waterfront scene in the Boothbay region that caused him to stop and set up his easel. Painting on the spot, or en plein air, the 60-year-old South Carolina artist created Cozy Cove, an 18-by-24-inch oil and a good example of the “richly painted, atmospheric vistas” that have made him well-known over a 30-year career.
“A lot of my work is done down here in the Southeast, where I live, but I have spent all of my life going to Maine [to paint],” says Fraser, an elected fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists, and a signature member of Plein Air Painters of America. “This was a favorite haunt, and I found the scene interesting, with the seaweed … the old building. I loved the way the light picked up on the undulating siding, the colors in the water, the sky.”
Fraser believes in immersing himself in his scenes by painting in nature’s studio: the outdoors. He’s completing a book of 250 paintings of coastal South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida, to be published by the University of South Carolina Press, and the majority of the works were painted outdoors. “It’s important for an artist to be able to relay a sense of truth,” he says. “To do that, you have to be out studying the outdoors — the color of light at certain times, the way things reflect, the sky at certain times. By painting outdoors, we learn the truth through observation.”
That allows the artist to create the illusion on canvas that triggers in the viewer’s mind certain cues and knowledge that make a work “come alive,” says Fraser. “It has to be believable,” he says, “to give the viewer a journey.”
To view this and other works by West Fraser, visit the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery website at jrusselljinishiangallery.com or visit the gallery at 1899 Bronson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut.
This article originsally appeared in the August 2015 issue.