DC Moore Gallery
Cynthia Knott was recently awarded a fellowship from the Ballinglen Arts Foundation which allowed her to work in the town of Ballycastle in County Mayo on the Northwest coast of Ireland. In this area there is an extended period at dusk when the setting sun imbues the sky with an unusual reflected light. This time of day is referred to by the residents as “blue charm,” and was the inspiration for Knott’s recent series of seascapes.
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Living in a remote cottage on the coast of the North Atlantic, Knott was a daily witness to the unique effects of the area’s weather and atmosphere on the sky, horizon, and sea. During the summer months the town of Ballycastle receives approximately eighteen hours of sunlight each day, much of it in the form of long, lingering twilights that presented Knott with endless variations of light and a multiplicity of shades of blue.
Knott has experimented in the past with blue compositions, but this is her first entire body of work to focus on the color. She feels that the challenge in using blue is that the paintings can all too easily become cold or moody. "Cerulean and ultramarine, the usual colors of the sky, were simply not right for this place," Knott has observed. "I found myself using many new kinds of blue. I also began to see the reds and browns in the clouds, and the neutral grays and neutral charcoal, and to do much more cross-mixing on my palette." Knott also used silver pigments to capture the reflective nature of the sea and sky, rather than the gold pigments used in her previous paintings.
Knott continued her practice of working on site by the sea in an open-air shed beside her cottage, later finishing the paintings in the Foundation’s studio. The paintings consist of thin layers of oil, encaustic, and metallic pigments which are scraped down, sanded, and built up again over time until the desired interaction between surface and paint is achieved. The use of encaustics enables Knott to achieve a transparency and resonance from within that wouldn't be possible with any other medium. Her paintings do not capture an exact moment in time, but rather, are mutable -- changing constantly with the shifting light of various times of day. The paintings from Ireland will be shown alongside recent works completed on Eastern Long Island, where Knott resides year-round.