Inspired by the Landscape

For Judith Kunzlé, the landscape is a living thing — not only in the plants and animals that live on it, but the forms of the land, its tensions, the curves and sways of its topography. From the slopes of Mt. Diablo to the spiky curves of an agave, she aims to see the body language, dance, and harmony of her subjects.

“Purple Mountains, California” (watercolor, 6 x 9 in.)
To do justice to a dramatic landscape, you just can’t stick to the colors a camera would record, which is one reason that I do not work with photographs, ever. Drawing and painting “in the field” is rewarded with endless discoveries, which lead to different ideas each time I look.

No surprise that Judith loves drawing and painting the land en plein air (outdoors) — especially in the mountains. She hikes with her painting backpack and stops when a scene inspires her. She does not know what the painting will look like until she’s done. For her, the act of painting is an ongoing interaction with the landscape she’s in. She continually balances and plays with form, texture, light and color.

“California Winter Light” (watercolor 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.)
The low, almost horizontal winter light created strong and beautiful contrasts, intense nearby, and softer in the distance. Often, people walk, jog or bike into my paintings.

Judith has travelled far from her first home in Switzerland — from Chile to China, from New Zealand to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. But her favorite place of all is her new home, Walnut Creek, California.

” Mount Diablo With Snow” (watercolor, 8 x 10 in.)
It’s rare that Mount Diablo gets a snow cap, but when it does, its topography is revealed in precious detail, all tousled up by wind-swept clouds. Not that all of it needs, or could be, recorded, but there is much to choose from for a feast of forms and color.

From August 8 through September 1, 2019, Benicia Plein Air Gallery will showcase “Land and See,” a lively set of watercolors and ink drawings by Judith Kunzlé.

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