At the Intersection of Art, Environment & Spirituality
As an artist, I have always been fascinated with the natural world – images of a mountain range, a grove of trees, even a dwelling silhouetted against the night sky. In particular, I am drawn to the contemplative and sublime nature of these subjects, especially during low light conditions that accentuate the contrasts between light and dark.
In order to capture these moments on canvas, I combine intense dark areas with subtle areas of color, revealing a gradual transition towards light. My paintings are typically a distillation of a landscape’s essential elements and forms set in low light conditions. While there is certainly beauty in detail, my paintings aim to focus on the larger relationship between the subject and the surrounding atmosphere. In this way, I hope the viewer is able to reflect on the calming and healing influence of our natural environment.
I recently had the privilege of participating in the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, where representatives from over 150 countries bore witness to the dramatic changes occurring to our world, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels. At a time when our planet is facing the gravest of environmental challenges, I hope my art can serve as a reminder of nature’s inherent beauty and of our spiritual connection to it.
Peter A. Gish – January 2017
For watercolors I use almost exclusively Arches watercolor paper manufactured in France. I particularly like the 140 lb. 100% cotton cold pressed blocks. The lighter weight Arches paper can also give desirable effects. I have used the Codman group of watercolor papers but with less success. My palette consists of Windsor & Newton watercolor paint in tubes. I use almost exclusively the Pike series of watercolor boxes.
For oil painting, I have a strong preference for heavy-duty cotton 60 lb. duck weave canvas. I usually mount canvas on a 1/2” plywood board and prepare the surface with two coats of high quality gesso. I remove any defects with 180-weight sandpaper prior to starting work. I build my own easels which resemble those used by Rembrandt and his contemporaries. My palette consists of Windsor and Newton oil paints, although I have recently started experimenting with the John Harding line of oil paints. Once dried, I mount the finished canvases on high quality, heavy-duty stretcher bars.
I typically do several drawings and watercolor studies out-of-doors prior to commencing a canvas. I will initially work directly on site and then continue in my studio once I have settled on subject matter and composition. I often retreat to still life painting and figure drawing in the winter months when not working on a large canvas. The sequence below shows the evolution of a large work which was sold several years ago.