McBride Gallery's current exhibition, The Young Impressionists, opened Sunday with a reception for the three award-winning artists, Tim Bell, Stephen Griffin and Abigail McBride.
Chats with each artist revealed that they are true Impressionists who in a mere 90 minutes can permanently capture the beauty of nature in momentary light on their canvases.
All three have studied with Cedric and Jeanette Egeli of Annapolis and at the Cape Cod School of Art, founded in 1931 by American Impressionist Henry Hensche, a disciplined student of nature and the conditions of light.
The first show in Annapolis devoted to Impressionism was held at the McBride Gallery in September 1987. It featured the work of John Ebersberger, who has influenced all three exhibiting artists.
For several winters McBride has traveled to Maryland's Deep Creek Lake with Ebersberger's group of plein air painters, braving the snowy cold to create winter scenes on canvas.
Last season, they were featured on Maryland Public Television's series Outdoors Maryland in a "Shades of Winter" segment that won an Emmy last week.
Although a few winter scenes are included in the current show, there are many images of warmer seasons, all done in the Impressionist's energetic short quick brushstrokes.
Though all three say they're "only just beginning," these artists, in their 20s and 30s, explained recently why they choose to paint in the American Impressionist style that began in the 1890s and differs from the earlier French style in terms of its emphasis on form.
Tim Bell: "I wanted to express the beauty of nature and felt Impressionism was the best way."
Abigail McBride: "I believe Impressionism is the most beautiful blend of technical mechanical realism and emotional passionate response to nature's beauty."
Stephen Griffin: "One must study the past but not live in it to be a contemporary artist, incorporating principles of Impressionism to the visual language."
Bell posed with his representation of Tilghman Island's Dogwood Harbor capturing what he said were "proud old working skipjacks that continue to dredge for oysters."
"This was a sunny, happy day that I've tried to catch the spirit of in this favorite place to visit," Bell said. "I painted this in about one and a half hours because any longer, the light changes.
"I find this quiet appealing, but for favorite places to spend more time painting, I'd choose Scotland and the Isle of Skye."
Of her sunny representation of the Naval Academy Bridge spanning the Severn River, McBride recalled, "This was painted from Jones Green Park, a place I often come to paint because anywhere I turn, there's a scene to capture."
She said another small, atmospheric painting of the Severn River placed below "was a favorite done on a really foggy day."
Griffin captured brilliant midday sunlight in the painting he posed with.
"In Gloucester, Maine, there were fishing schooners anchored on this really beautiful bright day," he said. "That's why it's painted so thick because I had to capture the light quickly to paint the colors that express that particular day."
It's amazing to see what these artists can capture in an hour and a half, a mere 90 minutes, and it's encouraging to see them pursue a favorite art form, putting their individual stamp on it.
Gallery owner Cynthia McBride, the mother of Abigail McBride, said she was pleased to present the exhibition.
"These three young artists represent the future of American Impressionism," she said. "We wanted to showcase this new generation of young talent, reveal the lineage and history of their mentors that led them to this point and to keep this enthusiasm for Impressionism growing."
The exhibition can be viewed seven days a week at the gallery through June 22. Works in the show are available for purchase.
Information: McBride Gallery, 410-267-7077.