With a luminous palette of dusty purples and translucent blues, Richard Schloss’s New Paintings, currently on exhibit at the Easton Gallery, celebrates the natural beauty surrounding Santa Barbara. The show consists of Schloss’s quintessential moody landscapes, in which the artist captures the glory of the county’s vistas, from the shoreline beside Stearns Wharf to the wine country of Santa Ynez.
A contemporary atmospheric painter, Schloss triumphs in depicting the play of light on a range of subjects: seawater, weather clouds, and mountain ridges. Using a plein air painting style, he captures specific moments in time-those ephemeral minutes of dawn and dusk. Many of his dreamy coastal landscapes invoke the misty pink hues of sunrise or the iridescent effect of mist and fog over the ocean. His portrayals of the region’s landscapes are realistic and highly detailed, lending a sense of untouched purity to familiar scenes.
The Texas-born artist moved to California as a child, and the Santa Barbara scenery became his greatest artistic muse. Schloss holds a BA in Italian, as well as an MFA from UCSB. He was a founding member of the Oak Group, a collection of regional painters committed to using art as a means of raising awareness about environmental preservation.
A particularly noteworthy inclusion to this exhibition is Schloss’s Santa Barbara Backcountry Series, a group of paintings capturing scenes from the Santa Ynez Valley. In “Santa Barbara Backcountry Series #4, Afternoon,” ( pictured above )undulating cloud formations cast shadows over the rolling valley hills. Here, Schloss’s style echoes the Hudson River School, following the rich legacy of romantic painting in which humans are overshadowed by the power of nature. Reminiscent of certain paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, and Frederic Edwin Church, Schloss’s “Santa Ynez Valley” invokes a dreamy, glowing light, and ominous clouds hint at the unpredictable power of the natural world.