Chicago impressionist E.J. Paprocki returns to DeBruyne Fine Art in Naples for a solo exhibition that opens January 10. He brings to Southwest Florida new landscapes and cityscapes of destinations in Ireland, England and France, as well as luscious figurative works that include his Children on the Beach series.
With rare exceptions, Paprocki prefers to work on location. In art, that's called plein air painting.
“Painting on location forces you to work quickly,” says the artist. “There’s no time to linger over tiny details. You learn to say a lot with one brush stroke.”
Clouds alter the slant of the sun’s rays. Wind ruffles foliage and sends ripples scurrying through the water. People, cars and boats move in and out of a scene. So the plein air artist must work quickly lest nature defeat his mission to encapsulate his impression of how light, shadow and movement interact with his subject at a given instant in time.
Many of Paprocki's land and cityscapes capture European locations. "Last year, E.J. travelled to Ireland. His mom's family is from there, so he has roots in Ireland," divulges gallery owner Suzanne DeBruyne. "He hasn't painted Ireland in several years, and he took his dad on the trip with him."
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By painting the vast majority of his works on location, E.J. pays tribute to a rich tradition started by Edouard Manet and Claude Monet, the fathers of the impressionist movement. Recognizing that impressionists study the interplay of light, shadow and movement in the open air, Monet urged his contemporaries to give up their studios and never paint another stroke except outdoors, in front of their motif. He backed up this advice by converting a small boat into a floating art studio in which he painted portraits and cityscapes along the banks of the Seine.
“I like painting on location,” comments the artist who once set up his easel in the median of Chicago’s busy Michigan Avenue in order to get the best vantage for a rendering of his beloved home town. “Plein air painting is really a ‘happening.’” He attracts a fair number of bystanders wherever he paints. “That’s part of the fun of plein air painting,” he remarks, recalling a recent painting of Paris he rendered from a bridge spanning the Seine. “People are inclined to come up and engage you in conversation.”
You can engage the artist in conversation yourself by attending the reception marking the opening of his latest solo show at DeBruyne Fine Art in Naples. It is scheduled for 6-8 p.m., Thursday, January 10.