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Past painted anew by plein-air artists

September 24, 2010|By Terri Martin
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

La Cañada's historic Lanterman House is the backdrop for the fourth annual Foothill Artists League Exhibition and Sale for one day only, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 3. The arts and crafts architecture with its many French doors will provide ideal natural lighting for the paintings of the interactive study group led by celebrated artist and teacher Margot Lennartz.

The exhibition will feature the works of 11 artists who have studied together for the better part of a decade. The group works mostly in the plein-air style, landscapes that are begun on location and completed in studio, with the input and instruction of fellow league members and Lennartz. They paint in the footsteps of early 20th century California landscape impressionists Jean Munnheim, Sam Hyde Harris and Ellison Clark who visually recorded California terrain from La Jolla, Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove and Carmel, to Lower Tujunga Canyon, San Gabriel Mountains, Verdugo Hills and Eaton Canyon. Members of the league infuse their own interpretation of the environment in their individual paintings with a pervasive thumbprint of Lennartz throughout.

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German-born Lennartz describes the mission of the league as an updating of the visual recordings of California terrain as interpreted by their predecessors. Munnheim, Harris and Clark saw California in various stages of development. Lennartz came to California in the late 1950s and describes compromised views of the landscapes that were often foggy, smoggy, or otherwise diffuse. She considers the viewpoints and vision restored by the results of environmental movements a gift. To see the landscape again gives Lennartz and the league a fresh perspective.

Along with a clarified view, contemporary styles and dynamic color palettes make the works in the exhibition current. Part of the league's mission is to paint using a green method. Water soluble oil paints eliminate the need for harmful solvents like turpentine. Cadmium and other pigment bases and emulsifiers have been replaced by non-toxic mediums. They paint with a respect for nature that transcends their love for her beauty and include a process that preserves it.

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