Return to Plein Air

I can’t tell you exactly where this river scene is, but I know I have biked past it so many times, I feel in my heart it is a place I know as well as my backyard.

“For the past few months, Jan Lipes has begun painting outside again, an approach not taken since 2000,” according to the press release from the Gratz Gallery, where his work will be exhibited Jan 10-Feb. 14. “His plein air paintings are ‘free and loose’ and he no longer feels beholden to logic and rationality. He is permitting himself to paint in a very different way.”

Mr. Lipes was formerly a physician. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he was confined to a wheelchair and left medicine when it was no longer possible to do clinical work. He began to paint, using his non-dominant left hand.

It has been nearly three years since a body of Mr. Lipe’s work has been exhibited at the gallery. The hiatus was something the artist himself requested, as he was beginning to feel a desire to move his work in a new direction. Much has happened to Mr. Lipes and his work during his absence from public view. For those familiar with his paintings, the biggest change is the scale, as he is working on larger paintings. With the assistance of an automated easel, he is able to maneuver the canvas easily and extend his limited reach.  He has also renovated his studio, which lets him move about more easily and approach the paintings in a whole new way.

Mr. Lipes has also broadened his choice of subject. In addition to landscapes, the artist has ventured into portrait and still life painting. The subjects of his portraits are often friends, family members or ancestors. By painting them he hopes to come to terms with personal emotional issues stemming from those relationships. His still lifes, like much of his recent work, focus on the process of painting. He has become increasingly interested in the application of the paint on the ground, as well as the ground itself. Those familiar with his work will see altered brushstrokes and impasto. Texture and color have taken on a new importance.

Mr. Lipes notes a maturity to his painting that has grown over the past three years. His studio work is meticulous, calculated and studied. For the past few months, he has begun painting outside again, an approach not taken since 2000. His plein air paintings are free and loose and he no longer feels beholden to logic and rationality. He is permitting himself to paint in a very different way. Although Mr. Lipes continues to paint every day, his tempo has slowed and he creates fewer paintings annually.

The Gratz Gallery is located at 68 S. Main Street, Doylestown, Pa. The gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays, noon – 6 p.m., as well as by appointment.  215-348-2500;

This entry was posted in Bucks County, landscapes, Plein Air, realism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Return to Plein Air

  1. I so admire Jan Lipes and am in awe of how he had dealt with adversity.
    His paintings leave you feeling that anything is possible. How wonderful that technology was a partner in his creations.

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