Into Plein Air
Santa Barbara painter and gallery owner Ralph Waterhouse sheds light on plein air painting
As a plein air painter, Ralph Waterhouse finds his inspiration all around him. A lover of the countryside, he has found a special haven in Santa Barbara where, despite juggling the commitments of a gallery owner, he finds time to pick up a brush five days a week, sometimes painting all day out in the field.
Painting outdoors is a race against the changing light. You have to watch out if painting over a period of time or you might find yourself “chasing the shadows.” The use of a digital camera can help to capture fleeting moments that disappear quickly and to record the optimum light before it passes. Upon his return to the stu- dio, a large computer monitor helps the painter relive the scene in detail.
Ralph found a way to have some control over his destiny early on in his career when he began showing his work—along with that of his friends and other local artists—in the room next to his studio in Ambleside, England. The tradition he start- ed there has persisted at The Waterhouse Gallery, the premises upstairs from which Ralph continues to call home.
The Waterhouse Gallery gets submissions every day, and the thirty-five to forty artists represented by the gallery are handpicked by Ralph himself. There are a number of plein air painters, as the style of the gallery generally focuses on the rep- resentational or impressionistic. Recent exhibitions include New York to Rome by Canadian-born Mark Lague, whose stunning paintings infuse a vibrancy into every- day life. Coming up is Figures, featuring award-winning and nationally-known artists Scott Burdick, Jackie Chiu, C.M. Cooper, Nancy Seamons Crookston, Gil DiCiccio, Sean Diediker, Kim English, Lindsay Goodwin, Ray Hunter, Yingzhoa Liu, Huihan Liu, Elizabeth Locke, Susan Lyon, Mark Lague, Michael Mao, Craig Nelson, Matthew Peak, Randy Sexton, Brandon Smith, Hodges Soileau, Zhiwei Tu, Jove Wang, Jeffrey R. Watts and Shawn Zent.
Image: Waterhouse poses with his Spring Day. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy Waterhouse Gallery.