Plein Air and South Tamworth

Whiteface and Passaconaway 2, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 48x36

Whiteface and Passaconaway 2, acrylic on canvas, 48×36


One of the many virtues of my week in May at a cottage in South Tamworth, New Hampshire, was the view of Whiteface and Passaconaway Mountains, ten-plus miles away to the north. Even at that distance they dominated, despite a sea of green between us.

Whiteface and Passaconaway 1, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 24x18

Whiteface and Passaconaway 1, acrylic on canvas, 24×18

Three paintings led to the large one, “Whiteface and Passaconaway 2.” “Whiteface and Passaconaway 1” is impressionistic, thick with texture. “Mountain Study” bears no resemblance to mountains, but suggested a way to treat the diversity of the scene.

When I painted “Middle East Meets West” I had no idea that I would be attending an Arabic concert in the Barnstormer Theater in Tamworth village a few nights later. But when I returned to the painting later, I could not help but think back to the event.

The band was led by a charismatic Egyptian, Karim Nagi, who sang, danced, and played tambourine and an ancient guitar, with a band comprising a Moroccan musician on wind instruments, a violinist from Bagdad, and a Beirut native who fingered a zither-like instrument in his lap.

Mountain Study, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 24x18

Mountain Study, acrylic on canvas, 24×18

Nagi and his band blended culture and politics with music and humor in a performance that beautifully demonstrated the power of art and song to bring people together.

The painting is an eclectic landscape of images familiar and unfamiliar, in unfamiliar settings. “Middle East Meets West” was my first acrylic painting at this large (36”x48”) size, which also helped prepare me for the final canvas.


Middle East Meets West, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 36x48

Middle East Meets West, acrylic on canvas, 36×48

Text and images are among 24 new oil and acrylic paintings in the exhibit, “Changing Perspectives” at the Westhampton Public Library, Westhampton, Massachusetts, for the month of June.

The Westhampton library is at One North Road. Hours are Monday and Thursday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


I will be participating in “Open Air Studio: A Paint Out to Celebrate the Mount Holyoke Range,” this Saturday, June 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Skinner State Park in Hadley. Plein air artist Lewis Bryden will lead a group of nature and art lovers on a hike, to arrive at the Summit while artists are working. For more information, visit Kestrel Land Trust.


Here are three more paintings from South Tamworth, part of “A Paletteable Feast!” at Hope and Olive Restaurant, 44 Hope St., Greenfield, features more than 20 other new paintings. It will remain on view through August.

Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Abstract 9 (South Tamworth), Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 18x24

Abstract 9 (South Tamworth), acrylic on canvas, 18×24

Moon Totem, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 16x20

Moon Totem, acrylic on canvas, 16×20

Glade, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 18x24

Glade, acrylic on canvas, 18×24



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