Painter and musician Amos Westmoreland closes his eyes and sees an entire painting―before he ever approaches his easel―as if he’s hearing the rhythms and movement of the piece before he paints it, sensing its composition. Musical rhythms affect his paintings, and the public is invited to feel this sensation at his new show of oils at Alta Vista Gallery, hanging October 17 through November 18.
Meet Westmoreland on October 28 at the opening reception for his show, “Autumn Colors,” from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Alta Vista Gallery.
While creating autumn landscapes for his solo show, Westmoreland focused on other senses, not only vision―ironic, given that paintings are classified as “the visual arts.”
We’ve all seen artists in the fields of music and dance close their eyes in order to be more immersed in the feeling of the music, but can this immersion apply to paintings? Westmoreland thinks so.
Westmoreland says, “Parallels between making music and making paintings are far reaching―loud notes and soft notes in music; hard edges and soft edges in paintings. In both art forms, I have to figure out how to hold the interest of the audience.
“Whether I’m reading musical notes or painting what is before me, I remind myself: that part is only about technical abilities and has nothing to do with creativity. Creativity comes from a different part of the brain. It’s all about your inner spirit. The task is to move that creative spirit from my heart to the piano keys or to a canvas.
“When I’m painting a landscape, I must connect with nature, so I attempt to paint with the same spirit from the sounds of nature that I get from certain music.
“I think that people who like fine art understand, and maybe even demand, that paintings are more than visual. A good painting makes a person feel the rhythms and movement of it and feel emotions.”
Westmoreland is a Contemporary Impressionist, and he paints entirely with the palette knife. His new show features 18 new oils in vibrant colors, especially the colors of autumn. The show includes a variety of sizes (up to 30×40 inches) and subjects, such as: rivers, light-dappled forests, country roads, farms, mountains, valleys, autumn trees.
Westmoreland says he enjoys being a Colorist painter, “because I like to paint landscape scenes that have mountains, which can anchor a painting with an added color that you normally would not use. It’s rare that you actually see a purple mountain through atmosphere, but as artists, we have that creative luxury to paint them any color that works in a painting.
“I prefer to paint very loose landscapes, and the palette knife helps in that process. Over the past several years, the palette knife has become my ‘weapon’ of choice when applying paint to canvas. It keeps me from focusing on details too quickly. Also, the biggest advantage is the distinct application of thick texture and powerful color.”
Gallery owner Maria Santomasso-Hyde says, “His strong use of color, layered with the palette knife, brings joy to the viewers―which is why he’s one of the best selling painters in my gallery.”
Westmoreland paints based on the many photos he shoots. He laughs, saying, “The hard part is narrowing down my photos to the ones that will work in my style, which I call CBS. Colorful. Bold. Simple.”
Westmoreland says, “I actually try not to think too much while I’m painting, but first I spend a great deal of time thinking and analyzing the various stages of the painting. I get very excited about the process of painting! This year, my canvas preparation was different, because I wanted more texture than usual and spots of color showing in the under-painting.
“After I study my photo that I’m using for the subject of a painting, to get the composition and to identify the light source, I then use the rest of my time creating the painting the way that I want it to be. I try to not think about if anyone is going to like my painting, but to just be in the moment, in the process of painting. It’s important that I’ve done what I set out to do in capturing the mood or the feel of the painting. This year, I especially enjoyed how the palette knife paintings are more loose and fresh, with so much color and texture.”
His hope for customers is that his paintings “will cause them to pause and reflect, to take some time to have their own personal moment with the painting. I believe that an artist’s work should connect emotionally and/or spiritually with the viewer.”
In its 28th year, Alta Vista Gallery shows 100 artists in all media and is located minutes from Boone in a National Register Historic farmhouse at 2839 Broadstone Road, Valle Crucis, NC―between Mast Farm Inn and Mast Store Annex.
For a map and directions, and to view some of the art, visit www.AltaVistaGallery.com and the gallery’s page on Facebook.
For more info, call the gallery at (828) 963-5247.
The October 28 event is part of the “Tour d ‘Art,” which is held every fourth Saturday, June through November. The November 25 event will be the gallery’s Annual Christmas Open House. Map-brochures for the tour are at Alta Vista and at the other eight stops on the tour.