Past painted anew by plein-air artists

La Cañada's historic Lanterman House is the backdrop for the fourth annual Foothill Artists League Exhibition and Sale for one day only, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 3. The arts and crafts architecture with its many French doors will provide ideal natural lighting for the paintings of the interactive study group led by celebrated artist and teacher Margot Lennartz.

The exhibition will feature the works of 11 artists who have studied together for the better part of a decade. The group works mostly in the plein-air style, landscapes that are begun on location and completed in studio, with the input and instruction of fellow league members and Lennartz. They paint in the footsteps of early 20th century California landscape impressionists Jean Munnheim, Sam Hyde Harris and Ellison Clark who visually recorded California terrain from La Jolla, Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove and Carmel, to Lower Tujunga Canyon, San Gabriel Mountains, Verdugo Hills and Eaton Canyon. Members of the league infuse their own interpretation of the environment in their individual paintings with a pervasive thumbprint of Lennartz throughout.

German-born Lennartz describes the mission of the league as an updating of the visual recordings of California terrain as interpreted by their predecessors. Munnheim, Harris and Clark saw California in various stages of development. Lennartz came to California in the late 1950s and describes compromised views of the landscapes that were often foggy, smoggy, or otherwise diffuse. She considers the viewpoints and vision restored by the results of environmental movements a gift. To see the landscape again gives Lennartz and the league a fresh perspective.

Along with a clarified view, contemporary styles and dynamic color palettes make the works in the exhibition current. Part of the league's mission is to paint using a green method. Water soluble oil paints eliminate the need for harmful solvents like turpentine. Cadmium and other pigment bases and emulsifiers have been replaced by non-toxic mediums. They paint with a respect for nature that transcends their love for her beauty and include a process that preserves it.

Lennartz has a gift for composition, lighting and coloration. She views landscapes through a stained-glass lens, which brings her paintings to life. Her compositions vary from vortex-like to diagonal. Geometry and motion are cleverly devised to draw the viewer into her pictures. There is extraordinary variety in her imagery, which is something sorely missing in the portfolios of many landscape artists. She paints in a "ready" technique, which is a rapid development of the picture. No layering up of color, just direct application of paint to canvas and an immediate response to what the eye sees. Lennartz is a teacher to professionals.

The members of the Foothill Artists League are all accomplished in their own right, with Lennartz as their matriarch. Participating league members are Desdy Baggot, Kadija Dada Behary, Bill Henderson, Karen Horn, Gail Martin, Valery Moorhead, Millie Page, Karen Sill, Jean Tannhauser and Barbara Trevino. Their motto —"Those who paint together stay together."

In addition to viewing the latest collection of plein-air and studio oil paintings, the event will feature the music of the blue grass band 2 Frets Lower and serve refreshments. A docent tour of the Lanterman House will be available and Lennartz will do a live painting demonstration, the result of which will become a raffle prize near the conclusion of this collaborative event between the Lanterman House and the league.

Terri Martin is an art historian, artist and critic.


What: The Foothill Artists League fourth annual Art Exhibition and Sale

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 3,

Where: The Lanterman House, 4420 Encinas Drive, La Cañada Flintridge

Contact: (818) 240-6971 or (818) 790-1421

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