“The road is mostly empty — just a stray dog and one other person wearing a funky homemade face mask,” says Richie Vios. “Most of the bars and saloons are closed; only essential establishments are open to the public, often with big warning signs reminding people to stay six feet apart and hand sanitizer all over the place. That’s the scenario where I live in South Texas. But just a month and a half ago, I was competing in the Lighthouse ArtCenter’s Plein Air Festival in Palm Beach, Florida. For me, the event marked the last days when the world felt normal. Shortly after, everything began to break loose. Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, and events I had scheduled into June began to cancel. Of most urgent concern, however, I had a 20-hour drive ahead of me from Florida to Texas. To break up the trip, I had a hostel reservation in New Orleans, where I was able to slip in some plein air painting.
“With the city already in the process of locking down, the famous landmarks and tourist spots were nearly desolate. I wanted to document history in this moment with my paintings of the Natchez Steamboat and St. Louis Cathedral, surreally absent the usual throngs of visitors.”
“When I arrived at my studio in late March, I took a weeklong corona-cation (coronavirus quarantine + vacation), doing little but watching the scary news reports on tv and erasing one event after another from my big whiteboard calendar. With so much else out of my hands, I decided to do the one thing within my control — paint. Thus began my Covid-19 painting series.
“At this point, I’m imagining a series of 12 paintings total in the series. They will be exhibited online at my website www.vioswatercolor.com or if lockdown guidelines permit, a gallery show may be announced to view the pieces in person. Forty percent of the proceeds from this series will go to local Covid-19 victim aid.”
Beautiful, powerful. Thank you for recording this for history.
Wonderful, thoughtful work! I’m so glad you so artfully documented this stange, sad time in our history.
Inspirational and so expressively painted in watercolor . Fantastic work Richie
Those are amazing! You caught the heartache, the worry, and the care perfectly.
Outstanding ty ❤️
Great historical commentary. Your paintings should travel our country as a tribute for our essential workers.
Fantastic tribute, really mesmerizing work. The husband and wife doctors painting is so very touching, brought tears to my eyes.
What wonderful talent….painting with empathy. You have an amazing talent Richie Vios. Best Wishes!
This particular edition was very meaningful and thoughtful.I found all of the works brilliant,depicting what is happening right now in nearly every part of the world.I too loved the husband and wife painting. How moving! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for this work and your commentary, Richie Vios. Beautiful work!
Powerful! What a lovely way to honor those caring for others while they also put their lives at risk!!
[…] published? Richie: “Yes, in the American Watercolor weekly and Texas local news paper;” americanwatercolor.net […]
Thank you, Kelly for sharing Richie’s insight and wonderful experience of Plein air painting… its nice to read a positive story.
The beauty and industry shown in these works are an inspiration to all artists. Make hay while the sun shines! Expressing and recording warm humanity at a peculiar time links these pieces with great art. Make art in masked lockdowns!
I am flabbergasted that you painted a scene with a shopping cart. Everyone knows a grocery store does not have ideal lighting. “Painting is hard enough without a single light source” is what I heard from the great master David Leffel. ( I took that statement as challenge and tried to paint the garish light of a casino interior. ) These paintings are an argument for technical expertise to be able to express the extraordinary in commonplace.
I am flabbergasted that you painted a scene with a shopping cart. Everyone knows a grocery store does not have ideal lighting. “Painting is hard enough without a single light source” is what I heard from the great master David Leffel. ( I took that statement as challenge and tried to paint the garish light of a casino interior. ) These paintings are an argument for technical expertise to be able to express the extraordinary in the commonplace.