Lines and Colors art blog

Lynn Boggess
In writing about painters who work with thick impasto (such as Antonio Mancini), I have sometimes used “troweled on” as a metaphor to describe the heavy application of paint. In the case of West Virginia painter Lynn Boggess, however, “troweled on” literally applies to his painting method.

Boggess works in a manner associated with painting knives; and though he does use large painting knives at times, he works at such a scale that cement trowels of varying sizes are among his most commonly used tools for the application of paint.

Boggess’ approach is also unusual in that he paints his large canvasses on location, seeking out his subjects in the Appalachian woods and countryside. He has even constructed a special plein air painting platform that allows protection for his large canvasses when working in difficult weather.

You can see both the platform and his tools on the “On Location” page of his website, and even better in a video from 2009, available on YouTube, and another devoted to The Setup as well as the painting technique. The videos also give a sense of the scale of his work. (I love the fact that his equivalent of a plein air wet panel carrier is mounted to a trailer towed behind his Jeep.)

Ordinarily, as much as I like the effect of painting knives when used in conjunction with brushes, I find too many artists who work only with knives (or similar tools) have a limited vocabulary of marks — making their work feel too uniform in texture. Boggess is the antithesis of this; his trowels and knives are used to dash, slab, stroke, feather, scumble and scrape in a marvelous variety of marks and textures. In addition, the textural elements of his work give a sense of movement and liveliness to his paintings, sweeping your eye through the composition in zig-zag paths.

For all of his attention to surface texture and paint application, much of Boggess’ work is characterized by a naturalistic sense of color, something that he pursues with the considerable effort required to take his painting approach into the field.

Given the size at which he works, the textural elements of Boggess’ paintings are best appreciated in close-ups, as I’ve tried to highlight in detail crops accompanying the top three paintings above.

Unfortunately, his own website provides a poor display of his work, with inexplicably small images confined to an awkward interface. I recommend his website for information on the artist, but his work is best viewed on the websites of some of the galleries in which he is represented, particularly Evoke Contemporary, which has the largest expanded views of his work I’ve found. I’ve listed other galleries below.


6 responses to “Lynn Boggess”

  1. I envy artists who are able to use such thick amounts of paint to describe such precise detail, and Boggess certainly does that here.

  2. Great stuff, thanks,

  3. Lorette Avatar

    SVP, could you explain his plein-air techniques? What are they, exactly, Charley?

    1. He’s painting on a large scale, perhaps 100x130cm or larger, using cement trowels in the manner of painting knives. Watching the two YouTube videos will make it clearer than I can with a verbal description.

  4. Such wonderful paintings and amazing skill.

  5. Yeah, he is a painter who uses palette knives (cement trowels) not a palette knife artist. He is a painter first. I find many, not all, palette knife artists work to be clunky and clumsy, as though they struggle with the tool.
    His work has a refinement, even a delicacy, that seems counter to the method. That is one reason I think his work stands above the rest.