Neal Hughes and Crista Pisano: Large or Small Paintings – Boothbay Register | Candle Made Easy

Sylvan Gallery is pleased to present, for the second year in a row, an exhibition of the exceptional oil paintings of Neal Hughes and Crista Pisano, two renowned landscape artists known for their ability to capture the essence of their subject.

The exhibition opens on Monday August 1st. The Artists Meet Reception will be held on Thursday, August 25 from 5pm to 8pm to coincide with the evening of the Wiscasset Art Walk.

Hughes and Pisano’s ability to interpret nature and show what moves them in a scene has earned them many awards throughout their painting careers, and both have been accepted as judges at many of the country’s most prestigious outdoor art competitions. The most notable difference between their work is that Hughes’ paintings can range from 8 x 10 inches to 30 x 30 inches or larger and Pisano is much more likely to work on miniature size panels, some even as small as 4″ x 4″ with longer panoramic views, which range up to 2.5″ x 12″, for example.

Coastal motifs and sailboats inspire much of Neal Hughes’ work in the exhibition, although he paints a variety of subjects at home, including historic New England architecture, fields and forest streams. “Sails Down, Camden” at 8″ x 10″ has a Sargent-like feel. Hughes creates a skillful portrait of a sailing boat with loose, painterly and energetic brushwork, and one can imagine feeling the wind and water and witnessing the changing light. It’s lavishly painted and exudes the dexterity of a sure hand, with lots of quick pops of color that seem perfectly placed.

The overall feel of the plein air piece is one of vitality and excitement. “End of Day Rockland” measures 24″ x 36″ and is a marine painting of two schooners, Heritage and American Eagle, moored at a dock in Rockland Harbor. Hughes captures fleeting moments of light as the last rays of the sun fall on the hull of the foremost schooner. Rosy highlights on violet clouds still linger and the blue, jewel-like tones of the distant water are dotted with watercraft. Discarded old wooden planks in the foreground add visual interest and convey the working nature of the port. This is a painting that Hughes created in the studio using reference material from a painting trip to Rockland last year, showing his knowledge and love of nautical subjects.

Parker House, 30″ x 30″, is a magnificent painting of a white country farmhouse. Hughes uses both brush and palette knife work to capture the color, texture, and weathered look of the old farmhouse. Silver tones of blue and purple are used throughout the painting, creating a beautiful color harmony while contrasting with the sunlit white clapboards and the rich green of the grasses and leaves. Overgrown bushes block light from the ground floor windows, but curtains still hang in the front entry door window. A dory on sawhorses stands nearby, indicating that the house has been neglected but not abandoned. Not only does Hughes create a beautifully rendered painting of an old farmhouse, but he captures the intrinsic quality of the scene and leaves the viewer curious for more.

While some artists use small paintings to create quick impressions of a scene and possibly draw on them to plan larger compositions in the studio, Crista Pisano’s small paintings are definitive works of art and visually have the impact and convey as much information as possible you will find in a larger painting. Coastal views of Maine provide the inspiration for many of her paintings in the exhibition. Ocean Point in East Boothbay has the distant view that Pisano loves to paint best contrasted with the chaos of the rocky Maine coast,” she said. In her painting “Ocean Point Long View” at 2.75″ x 12.5″, Pisano captures the rocks in earth tones of ochre, gray and auburn, and her brief dabs of color are effective in massaging yet individualizing their forms. The subtle tones of the sky shift from pale alizarin pinks to warmer yellow-green hues, and the deep blue of the water is like a glass reflecting the sky just above us and out of view. A few sparse trees above the rock line to the left of the panel draw our attention for their distinctive shapes, seen to have withstood the elements of wind and rain and been shaped by the harsher environmental conditions.

Pisano brings emotion and life to her small paintings and we can see what excites her about her subject matter. Measuring 4.125 inches by 4.625 inches, Mountain Pines may seem like a simple painting complete with sky, trees, a mountain, and a ground plane, but what Pisano brings to the scene makes it magical. Her large cluster of pines contrasts with the atmospheric blue of the mountain, and Crista admits that “I can never fail to paint a dark pine against an atmospheric blue. It really helps bring out the character and individuality of the trees.”

During his stay in Maine, Pisano always spends a lot of time at Pemaquid Point and finds the typical Maine seascape and rock patterns fascinating. “Pemaquid Patterns” at 5.25″ x 3.25″ is a vertical painting in which the rocks predominate, but Pisano’s handling of the sky with the fast-moving clouds captures our attention and the viewer can imagine them Standing there being whipped by the wind.

The exhibition lasts until September 4th. At the same time, the gallery also features work from its regular roster of contemporary visual artists: Peter Layne Arguimbau, Joann Ballinger, Al Barker, Paul Batch, Angelo Franco Jr., Susannah Haney, Heather Gibson -Lusk, Stan Moeller, Robert Noreika, Ann Scanlan, Polly Seip, Laura Winslow, and Shirley Cean Youngs. Works from the estate of the late Charles Kolnik will also be on display.

For more information, call Ann Scanlan at 882-8290 and/or visit

The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at 49 Water St., Wiscasset.

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