Capturing nature at the water’s edge


Mother Nature served as the muse for “Shoreline Symphony,” a 45-piece exhibition currently showing at the Newington-Cropsey Foundation in Hastings-on-Hudson.

Artists from 10 different countries used the sights and sounds of the water’s edge as the inspiration for paintings, sculptures and graphites.

“The ‘Birds in Art’ exhibitions are among our most popular and well attended,” said Anthony Speiser, the foundation’s director. “Art lovers, nature lovers, and of course bird lovers, are enthralled with the artwork on display.”

The collection evokes the spirit of the Hudson River School artists, a 19th century group of landscape painters greatly influenced by romanticism, Speiser said. Most of the displayed pieces were created in the late 20th century, with some completed as early as the beginning of the 1980s.

Perhaps one of the most notable works is Scottish artist John Busby’s “Two Avocets,” which are long-legged waders found mostly in shallow waters. Busby, who died in 2015, is perhaps best known for his book “Drawing Birds,” which discusses not only how to draw, but also provides detailed sketches of the winged animals.

“I studied this particular bird in full breeding plumage as he moved from one intriguing spot to another,” wrote painter Mary Louise O’Sullivan of her work. Her “Tricolor Heron” is an oil-on-linen, capturing the long-legged and freshwater bird standing on a rock in the middle of the water.

“Each location posed challenges, especially in how to interweave the objects above and below the surface of the water,” wrote O’Sullivan. “In the end, the painting was a play on complementary colors: golds and blues.”

Some of the other featured artists include Ken Carlson, Ewoud de Groot and James Morgan, who provide their perspective of the landscape, greenery along the shoreline, and an assortment of birds enjoying the waters. Artists are from countries like Belgium, South Africa and New Zealand.

The pieces, Speiser said, convey the feel of the Hudson River School artists who wanted to paint nature and all its beauty realistically.

While the exhibition does show a number of paintings, one of Speiser’s favorite items is a sculpture of a falcon.

“It appears to be bronze, but is actually a carved wood sculpture,” he said. “Generally I prefer paintings to sculpture, mostly because I relate more to them, and also because I am intrigued by the use of color, which is minimized in sculpture. But this piece is so unique and striking, it always draws me to it.”

The Woodson Museum of Art in Wisconsin organized the exhibition, which is currently on loan to Newington-Cropsey.

Founded in 1977, Newington-Cropsey was created with the goal of preserving and displaying the works of Hudson River School artist Jasper F. Cropsey. The foundation added the art gallery building in 1994 to show more of Cropsey’s paintings and writings, and provide space for traveling exhibitions, according to its website.

Cropsey, who died in 1900, was one of the leading names of the Hudson River School art movement. He is perhaps best known for his painting “Autumn on the Hudson,” which hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Cropsey was considered a prodigy in his work with the visual arts. He won awards for his drawing and model house building — when he was just 13. At 19, he experimented with oil paintings, according to the foundation’s website.

“Shoreline Symphony” runs until July 28, and is open to the public.

“To display the works of current artists that are following this (Hudson River School style) credo, is a way to let the public know that there are still classically trained artists working with traditional methods to create beautiful paintings and sculpture,” Speiser said.