Richard Fennell: Capturing Life
“The sky is so blue,” says Richard Fennell of his Ashe County mountain retreat that inspired a series of oil paintings, House at Flat Ridge (left), House Mid-Day and House Afternoon (above), on view, along with their pastel studies at GreenHill’s 40th exhibition of 100-some North Carolina artists, Winter Show 2019, (December 8 through January 17, 2020).
From his student days at ECU through postgraduate work at UNCG to his studio in Whitsett, painting has been an endless quest to capture “life” through brilliant color. “I’m using color as a tool to reconstruct the topography,” he says.
Fennell, who started out as a sculptor, adopted abstract techniques — here the frothy brushstrokes recreating the grass and trees in the foreground — combined with the clearly defined lines of the houses. “I’m still, after all these years, interested in the reality of the thing. I can’t completely divorce myself from it,” the artist says.
Nor can viewers completely divorce themselves from looking upon his canvases, practically feeling the tall grass brush against their legs, as it sways gently in a cool autumn breeze — in a word, life. But Fennell admits, “You never really get it completely. You get close to it, you keep trying.” — Nancy Oakley