The Block Island Times
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Paintings by Fred Poisson at Jessie Edwards

Jul 05, 2013
Artwork by: Fred Poisson "Silent Afterglow on the Salt Pond" 20x30 watercolor on paper, available at Jessie Edwards Gallery.

Nine new watercolors by Fred Poisson are on view at the Jessie Edwards Studio on the second floor of the Post Office building until July 10. An enthusiastic crowd attended the opening reception on June 29 in the gallery.

The title “Lucent Water” perfectly describes this group of paintings that are a distillation of Poisson’s work over the past year. They reflect his fascination with light in its myriad manifestations, especially its play upon water, and they have a luminous richness not always associated with the medium of watercolor.

Two early morning studies of Andy’s Way illustrate these aspects in contrasting ways. Both have a primeval quality, a sense of discovering a new world. “Andy’s Way, Moon Setting” captures a rare moment in the fall of 2012: A bright full moon sits low on a blue horizon above the dark-green foliage of Beane Point and casts its light across the Salt Pond. In the foreground, green dune grass along the beach softly bends in the pale light of the early morning sun.

In “First Light Andy’s Way,” it is low tide in early spring at the northeast end of the Great Salt Pond. The low angle of the sunlight casts warm amber shadows across the dune grass. The glistening, silken slate-blue water eddies around the dark mounds of mud flats in what would be a primordial scene if not for the faint silhouette of the Coast Guard buildings along a distant pale horizon.

“Flurries” and “Winter Blanket” offer two different aspects of winter.

In “Flurries,” light brings into relief the snow-trimmed tangle of vines, twigs, and branches of the brush along the bluffs that dominates the foreground. A veil of flurries falls upon them and on the contours of the brown furrows of the bluffs beyond. The Southeast Lighthouse in the distance fades into the opaque gray of a snow–filled sky while a faint tinge of turquoise in the lower right suggests the sea below. In “Winter Blanket,” a near-abstract study in blue, gray, and white, the storm is over. A low wintry light under a blue-gray sky casts blue and gray shadows across a snowfield with a cluster of bare shad trees (and their shadows) in the center. Beyond is a line of blue water merging into the white light of the sky.

In “Little Sachem,” Poisson combines watercolor with dry brush to suggest two different qualities of one scene. The foreground bristles with texture and subtle layers of color and detail. The water reflects a darkening sky. In contrast, the upper part of the scene is rendered in softer, broader tones and strokes. Texture is also an important part of “Sun and Sand Nourishes Me,” with the grit of the sand and spikes of dune grass in contrast to the calm sea and sky.

Again, in “Tree,” the stark light sets off the texture of a solitary tree with its bare branches and vines twining up the trunk. Its simplicity of form suggests Poisson’s interest in Chinese brush painting, as does “Silver Light,” another near abstract in brown, gray, white, and silver. A long, narrow vertical work (30” x 11”), silver flame-like light bursts through gray sky to illuminate the water and cast deep brown smudgy shadows along the grassy banks of the pond.

This collection of Poisson’s more than fulfills the connotations of its title “Lucent Water.”

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