Since the trans-continental railroad was completed in 1869, California’s warm climate, abundant sunshine and varied landscape has attracted plein air painters. (See my post on Granville Redmond.)
Jennifer McChristian came from Montreal, Canada, where she was born and began her study of art, moved to California, and received her BFA from Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design) in Los Angeles.
McChristian devotes herself largely to plein air painting. Though some of her paintings are of the fields and trees that are routinely subjects for plein air painters, she more often finds interest in urban scenes, streets, roadways and, interestingly, highway overpasses.
She applies her paint in brusque, unblended strokes of color, giving her work a feeling of immediacy and directness. The rough edged patches of paint form a textural component and are at times combined with scumbled areas.
She uses a bright, slightly “pushed” palette, that imparts a lively energy to subjects like boarded up gas stations, construction sites and highway underpasses, that might otherwise seem like dull subjects for paintings. She also revels in the geometry of these subjects, working their bulky forms and cast shadows into interesting compositions.
Her online gallery features landscapes, figures and works on paper. Clicking on an image produces a pop-up window with a larger image, and a convenient forward and back navigation within it, allowing you to move through the large images without returning to the smaller versions. Unfortunately, this is hampered by a script that annoyingly resizes the window for each image, a case of the designer defining and defending a design space at the expense of user experience.
You’ll find slightly older works in the Archive section, showing a continued interest in the forms of bridges, culverts and overpasses.
Addendum: Thanks to Jason Waskey for reminding me that I neglected to mention Jennifer McChristian’s blog, on which she posts larger images of her paintings (click on the ones in the blog posts for enlargements), as well as discussing some of her experiences while painting them on location.