Gloucester’s Arts on Main welcomes its first Artist in Residence

by Peter J. Teagle - Posted on Jan 30, 2019 - 02:07 PM

Photo: The first artist invited to participate in the Arts on Main Artist in Residency program is plein air painter Lynn Mehta, seated. Last Thursday she met with Arts on Main and Cook Foundation members for a luncheon at LuLu Bird’s to discuss her background, work, and plans for her time in Gloucester. Pictured standing from left are Bill Andersen, Lynne Manning, Carolyn Dudley, Betsy Henderson, Mollie Stewart, Rosie Crawford, Karen Flowe, Jenny Crittenden and Adrianne Ryder-Cook Joseph. Photo by Peter J. Teagle

The first artist invited to participate in the Arts on Main Artist in Residency program is plein air painter Lynn Mehta, seated. Last Thursday she met with Arts on Main and Cook Foundation members for a luncheon at LuLu Bird’s to discuss her background, work, and plans for her time in Gloucester. Pictured standing from left are Bill Andersen, Lynne Manning, Carolyn Dudley, Betsy Henderson, Mollie Stewart, Rosie Crawford, Karen Flowe, Jenny Crittenden and Adrianne Ryder-Cook Joseph. Photo by Peter J. Teagle

Arts on Main and The Cook Foundation have announced their first Artist in Residency, as artist Lynn Mehta will look to draw inspiration from the natural beauty of Gloucester County.

“I’m looking forward to painting on the river,” Mehta said at a welcome lunch with Arts on Main and Cook Foundation leadership. “There’s a big world out there and it’s really valuable to get to know a place by painting it.”

The Northern Virginia-based artist has spent her career largely working within the plein air style, which involves painting natural scenes on site in open air instead of from memory or photographs.

Following art school at San Diego State, Mehta has travelled the world in pursuit of her passion, including a residency in Acadia, Maine, and time in Maryland, the Midwest, Death Valley, the Netherlands, France, Estonia, Mexico and Nova Scotia. Mehta has studied under the likes of the California-based Ray Roberts and Netherlands artist Roos Schuring, considered by many to be modern masters of the style.

Mehta described the plein air technique as more dynamic than other methods. “Lighting, everything is affected by lighting,” she said. “Your subject constantly changes and you have to capture that movement.”

In addition to changing lighting, shadows, weather, wind and terrain all come into play when creating a plein air piece. “It is such a payoff once you get used to the challenge,” Mehta said. “You are translating an outdoor experience.”

In her childhood, Mehta spent much time painting or drawing outside, capturing the world around her. However, it wasn’t until her career unfolded as an adult that she realized her preferred childhood method of creating art was actually a studied formal technique.

“It was maybe 15 years ago that I started plein air formally and maybe 10 years ago when I started painting full time,” she explained.

In terms of her work, Mehta credits painting in environments across the world as lending to more dynamic pieces. “You realize the blue of the sky in Maine is different from the blue of the sky in the desert … it’s not only about the way light hits everything but also about the shadows,” she said.

Mehta lists water scenes as her favorite subject matter, something she will surely see plenty of in her residency in Gloucester. “I love the movement as well as the depth” she said. Mehta said she looks forward to having weeks to focus on her painting without distractions, saying, “I’m lucky that I can do this and especially at this time.”

It is this uninterrupted focus that program director Melanie Hartman sees as a huge benefit of the Artist in Residency. “Our goal is to provide an immersive experience for emerging and experienced artists alike in all different disciplines and genres,” she said, “to support and invest in individuals to reach the next level of their artistic talent and experience.”

With the help of the Cook Foundation, Goshen Estate of Gloucester has been secured for the artist’s residence, allowing for two to eight weeks of largely uninterrupted work and artistic development. 

Hartman described that artists over the age of 25 across any discipline are welcome to apply and that they encourage (but do not require) “that each artist create ‘place-based work’ such that the work realizes its inspiration from the place in which it is created.” 

“Gloucester and the historic Gloucester Main Street Village provides a venue of history, culture and an emerging art spirit,” she continued. “With the support of Arts on Main and the Cook Foundation artists will be cheered and celebrated by the local community helping to provide the energy for artists to perform their very best work.”

In addition to the residency, artists’ work will be featured in the Arts on Main gallery. They will also host workshops for the community and participate in various Arts on Main and Cook Foundation events.

For Mehta, her residency has already begun and the community can see more of her work at Arts on Main until Feb. 23.