Past Show

When gallery patrons encounter Massachusetts artist Janis Sanders’ work for the first time, there is usually a visceral reaction. The paintings radiate a bold physical presence. The subject matter is often island light, salt marshes, cottages and granite ledge, but Sanders’ treatment of these common themes is anything but prosaic. Using his sensory impressions as a creative vantage point, Janis constructs simplified compositions by locking in large abstract elements such as sky and water. The work never crosses the line into pure abstraction, however. There always remain representational elements – although a steep gabled roof, sun struck wall, or becalmed boat may tend to acquire an iconic or archetypal quality.

With a painterly impasto technique, Sanders vigorously wields his palette knife to apply planes of striking, brilliant color that seem to infuse his paintings with light. “I love sunlight,” says Sanders. “I always have loved sunlight. As far as I can foretell, I always shall love sunlight. For me sunlight and the outdoors are synonymous, and sacred. Any surface the sunlight falls upon becomes part of the sacred act, the sacred event. My self-assigned task for each work is to convey the ethereal ‘thing’ of light in paint, as the sun casts its breath upon the world.”

Unlike other plein air painters who may attempt to render natural effects of light and value, Sanders absorbs the gestalt of a particular place. The sense aspects of his surroundings – a salt-infused breeze, the fragrance of wild roses, the heat rising off sun-roasted rock – combine to  create in the artist a heightened sensitivity. “I feel my humanity and minuteness all at once watching a sunrise… the gulls calling and floating in the still air, the fisherman heading out with the break of day, the engine clear across the mile of open water, the cool ocean aroma mixing with every minute of sun rising warmth, on my skin and in the air,” he says. “I cherish each moment of the beginning of day, and the course of the day, just as the sunset closes the circle and announces it is time for rest.”

The joy and intensity of Sanders’ painting experience in the midst of the natural world is communicated in his expressive gestures of textured oil. His love of island and coastal light sends him back repeatedly to his favorite haunts…the outer Cape, the North Shore, Nantucket, and the coast of Maine. “Salt air, late day sunlight on a shoreline cottage, an old house at the water’s edge… these elements draw me outdoors. The smoothness of application of paint on board allows me to translate as spontaneously and directly as possible, the essence of the place,” says Sanders.

Since beginning his formal art education in the mid 1990s, Sanders has exhibited widely in galleries from Provincetown, Massachusetts to Santa Fe, New Mexico. His unique painting style has earned him numerous awards and honors, including the “H. Patterson Hale  Prize for Excellence” and “Best of Show” from the Newburyport (Massachusetts) Art Association, and he has been written about in 100 Artists of New England by E. Ashley Rooney, as well as in Artscope, Art New England, and Portfolio magazines. In the coming months, Sanders will also be featured in the soon-to-be published books Best of America: Landscape Artists, Vol II and American Art Collector.

“Maine Cottage and Architecture” ran from Saturday, August 4 through Thursday, August 16, 2012. A reception with the artist was held on Saturday, August 4th from 5pm-7pm.

View Janis’ Oils