Joan Langley Shaw is a lifelong Western New Yorker and a passionate landscape oil painter. Moving to a small farming community on the Ontario Lake plain twenty years ago, inspired her up pack up her paint box and head outdoors to experience the plain’s wide-open spaces first-hand.
“My best painting lessons have come through the voices of 19th Century landscape painters who backpacked into woods following obscure paths to better study nature. They had heart, and I like to think I have some of their spirit.”
Today outdoor field studies remain an important component of Shaw’s information gathering process. Observations, written notes, and memory aided by quickly executed pencil or paint studies forge a firm connection to place. Unnoticed things underfoot come into focus, while others blur into the distance. This is where art intersects with nature.
For Joan, studio work is a much slower process. Time allows for developing initial impressions into a more cohesive expression mood. Field notes form the basis for manipulating composition, value, color, to refine and define the essence of a motif. It is a multi-layered approach to painting, influenced heavily by classical techniques using both transparent and opaque oil paints.
Recognizing a need for plein air painters to safely access isolated nature preserves and busy city streets, Joan initiated the Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters in 2006. Painting in small groups of like-minded souls carries added benefits of camaraderie with others and on-the-spot feedback for the day’s work.
Joan’s painting studio is housed in a 19th Century dairy barn tucked under the wing of the Niagara Escarpment in rural Cambria, New York.