Artist Jim McVicker spent his Thursday afternoon making the trek from Eureka south to Lodi to deliver 10 completed paintings for the “Triple Threat” show. The creations are views of the North Coast near the home he shares with his wife, some apple trees on their property, and a summer sunset from their back deck.
All of these he painted in oils on large canvasses while set up in the outdoors. McVicker is well-known for his work in still lifes, but his plein air landscapes are what caught Robin Knowlton’s eye for this show.
McVicker likes the idea of being right on the spot to watch the changes that come over a place. Instead of capturing a moment, he’s capturing an atmosphere and a feeling.
The trick to painting on-site instead of in a studio is having the patience to wait for the right light. One large seascape was painted on two-week vacations over two summers.
“It took several sittings, which can be frustrating,” said McVicker. “We get a lot of fog. We were lucky to get enough sunny mornings to continue the process.”
One large painting of Yosemite Valley stretches across a 3- by-40-inch canvas. McVicker painted that one while camping in the national park in April. At night, or in inclement weather, the canvases are tucked into cars for safekeeping.
“Once you get acclimated to being outdoors all the time, it’s fine,” he said. “We just wear the right clothes and love being out there.”
“June Twilight” is a view of McVicker’s backyard from the deck. To get the sunset colors just right, he had a painting window of only 20 or 30 minutes each evening. By the time the work was done, McVicker completed 20 sittings.
The long hours are worth it for McVicker.
“I want people to get a sense of what I see and feel when I’m working on these. When I paint something, it’s a very strong reaction to what I’ve seen,” he said.
“That’s my motivation to paint it. I hope people will see just how absolutely beautiful I think this place is.”