Art Styles 101: Contemporary Landscape Painting

From the ethereal impressionism of Claude Monet’s water lilies to the “happy little forest” scenes of Bob Ross, landscape painting has taken many forms over the course of history. Today, contemporary landscape painting continues to astonish and inspire, and we’d like to share with you more about this versatile art style.

At Marcus Ashley Gallery, we represent a wide variety of contemporary landscape artists and have curated gorgeous landscape oil paintings for sale for your collection. If you’re interested in this art style, we encourage you to peruse our online gallery or visit us in person in South Lake Tahoe.

The Evolution of Landscape Painting in Recent Centuries

A historical context is always important to understand what differentiates contemporary landscape paintings from the art of the past. From the (Western) genre’s origins in the 1500s, landscape painting has seen several fascinating cultural evolutions. 

Painting was not always accessible for all social classes; the tools, materials, and training required to master the art was usually possible only with a wealthy patron. It was the wealthy, then, that commissioned skilled artists to paint landscapes, and it was typically their whims and desires that guided the artist’s hands.

Commissioning landscape paintings became enormously popular amongst the upper classes in Western culture in the 18th century. The famous Victorian art critic John Ruskin once declared landscape painting as the “chief artistic creation of the nineteenth century,” associating the appreciation of nature with spirituality. He said people are “apt to assume that the appreciation of natural beauty and the painting of landscape is a normal and enduring part of our spiritual activity.”

This mindset gave way to 19th and 20th century Romanticism, which sought to escape the harsh industrialization of the world and envision a purer, fantastical world that fulfilled the longings of the spirit. Landscapes of that era often embodied this concept, adding a mystical and fanciful touch to the realism of prior decades. 

Today, environmental issues such as climate change make the genre even more essential and profound. Contemporary landscape paintings express the beauty of the threatened earth humanity is challenged to preserve, while showing the same evocative appreciation for nature as their predecessors did hundreds of years ago.

Let’s explore some of our own artists represented at Marcus Ashley Gallery who explore the natural world through their work.

Landscape painting of a church nestled in green hills entitled Bells of the Abbey, by Charles Pabst.

Charles Pabst

Charles Pabst’s passion for the American Southwest is made clear in his breathtaking panoramas. As one of the country’s best-known contemporary landscape artists, he has received many awards and well-deserved international renown.

His use of warm lighting and soft impressionist brushstrokes evokes the peace and majesty of the outdoors. He often focuses on the unique landforms in the West, and excels in creating the sense of awe and wonder of ancient canyons and dramatic cliffs.

Pabst is fascinated by the history of the “wild west,” and some of his scenes depict western migration of American settlers and the scenery they encountered along their adventure. Pabst’s contemporary landscape paintings are excellent depictions of western Americana.

Landscape painting of a sunset over an ocean entitled New Day, by Alexander Volkov.

Alexander Volkov

Alexander Volkov’s contemporary landscape paintings feature a dazzling, mysterious interplay of light. His mastery of color allows him to create scenes that seem realistic at first glance, but slowly draw you in to a fantastical environment. Volkov once stated, “There is no greater mystery to me than the conflict of light and darkness. In the way they clash and penetrate each other, there is the source of everything.” 

Volkov’s landscapes remove the distractions and stresses of modern life. They present a natural America, free of cities and distraction. Whether he paints a soft sunset over the ocean or a still winter forest, he gives you the sense of peace and solitude that only nature can provide. In his paintings, nature triumphs over man, and every piece has a timeless quality.

Landscape painting of mountains and wildflowers entitled Blooming In Nature, by Mario Jung

Mario Jung

Mario Jung is a contemporary landscape artist from Korea with a powerful story. He miraculously recovered from an accident that left him blind, deaf, and paralyzed, and has poured his inspiration and passion for life into his contemporary landscape paintings ever since.

Jung does not commit to the free-flowing randomness of nature. His paintings often mix elements of realism with clean, geometric shapes and layers of texture that create a captivating scene that draws you in and forces you to reconsider your reality.

Landscape painting of a Venice canal entitled Beautiful Venice, by Michael Flohr

Michael Flohr believes that contemporary landscape paintings don’t have to have meaning — their beauty can simply be enjoyed. Flohr excels in capturing the beauty of cityscapes and rainswept streets, and is a master of avant garde and abstract expressionist techniques. 

Flohr is a contemporary landscape artist whose work is highly inspired by the bright colors and techniques of Cezanne. He paints with pure pigments and creates a dazzling mosaic effect, adding a modern twist to classic environments.

Artfully cracked landscape painting of mountains and wildflowers entitled Our Candy Land Corner by Rolinda Stotts.

Rolinda Stotts

Rolinda Stotts is inspired primarily by her rural upbringing and the simplified view of the world as viewed through the eyes of her children. Her oil paintings undergo a phenomenal transformation when she literally breaks them in her own two hands, cracking the thin layers and creating organic texture.

Stotts’ contemporary landscape paintings break the mold and stun viewers with their straightforward beauty. The tactile nature of her works draws viewers in and adds incredible visual interest, making her a unique contemporary landscape artist.

Browse Landscape Art and More at Marcus Ashley Gallery

Marcus Ashley Gallery’s passionate curators and art consultants are proud to represent the artists discussed above. If you’re interested in purchasing contemporary landscape paintings for your personal collection, we have many landscape oil paintings for sale, including but not limited to the artists discussed here.

Visit us at our spacious South Lake Tahoe gallery or on our website. Check out our upcoming events with artists to meet many of these painters in person, as well!

Understanding Art Gallery Style Framing vs. Gallery Wrapped Canvas

You have several options for how to display fine art in your home, but by far the two most common ways are gallery style framing and wrapped canvas. If you’re new to fine art and want to learn how to make your collection look appealing no matter which style of frame you choose, then we can help. 

The team at Marcus Ashley Gallery is happy to define gallery wrap vs. framing to help you decide the optimal method to display your artwork.

What is Wrapped Canvas?

Canvas is a specific type of fabric material designed to be durable but stretchable. An artist or a manufacturer stretches the canvas taut over a wooden frame and treats it with specific mediums so that it can hold and preserve paint. 

There are two kinds of wrapped canvas that work for either original canvas artworks or art prints on canvas: gallery wrapped vs. non-gallery wrapped. Non-gallery wrapped canvases are typically what you might find in an art supply store or in plein-air paintings that need to be more light-weight for portability, where you will find thinner stretcher bars and where the canvas staples are clearly in view. Artists and clients both usually desire art on non-gallery canvas to be framed.

Gallery wrapped canvas is a method of displaying paintings wherein the edge of the canvas is stretched over the frame and completely covers the stretcher bars beneath: you will not see the staples, the stretcher bars are usually thicker, and the overall presentation is sleek. The painting continues around the entire edge, adding dimension to the piece and creating a “pop-out” effect on your wall. 

Some frames beneath canvases are thick, so they can be challenging to frame yourself without a professional service — in this case, choosing a gallery-wrapped style is both an easier and often a more affordable option. At Marcus Ashley Gallery, we offer gallery-wrapped canvas options for many of our limited edition giclee and artists’ limited edition prints.

Many people love the effect of this framing style, feeling that it lends a contemporary and artistic appeal to the room. It all depends on your style preferences and the genre of painting, as well.

Examples of gallery-wrapped canvas on display at Marcus Ashley Gallery. Artist - Mario Jung

What is Gallery Style Framing?

Close up of a custom art frame with a blue patina finish over gold

Gallery framing is simply when a professional encloses artwork in a custom frame. A frame can also come with glass or plexiglass, which then protects delicate artwork and encourages its longevity.

Choosing a gallery frame for art both elevates and enhances art, making it look more complete and professional. Additionally, when you choose a custom frame, you can complement the art by choosing special finishes and patinas to make the art truly stand out. The expense is well worth it for most collectors concerned about the long-term value of their collection. Additionally, having features like UV protection and protection from dust and the elements helps keep your artwork vibrant.

While custom framing definitely makes art work look and feel more elegant, gallery wrapped canvas does offer similar benefits visually. Some types of art, such as artists’ prints on paper, watercolors, and lithography, benefit more from a frame.

If you desire gallery style framing for your deep canvas, a floater frame is an excellent option. Note that if you choose this option, you might be covering a small amount of the edge of the canvas. A professional gallery framer will be able to advise you on the best options for your specific artwork.

Choosing Gallery Wrap vs. Framing

There is one important thing to note: like your personal art preference, there is no “best” way to display a painting. Both gallery style framing and gallery wrapped canvas can look attractive and professional. It comes down to personal preference and your interior style.

Another important question you can consider when making your choice between gallery wrap vs. framing is: How did the artist intend for their art to be displayed? More often than not, an artist has this in mind before they even begin the piece — especially if they intentionally paint the edges of the canvas sides.

Choose Marcus Ashley Gallery for Your Custom Framing Needs

Marcus Ashley Gallery creates museum-quality framing for our customers right here from our own frame shop. While you’re here, browse our online gallery to find inspirational artwork from some of the world’s finest artists. If you have any questions about gallery wrap vs. framing, contact the experienced professionals at Marcus Ashley Gallery. Our passionate art curators and consultants have the skill to advise you on the best choices for your space, and they’re more than happy to help find the perfect piece for you!

Art Styles 101: Magical Realism Painting

Image of Robert Gonsalves’ limited edition print of Space Between the Words
Robert Gonsalves, As Above and So Below, Limited Edition Print at Marcus Ashley Gallery

Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait of her spine replaced with a broken column, Emily Bronte’s ghosts in an otherwise typical-English Wuthering Heights, Franz Kafka’s transformation of a man into vermin in Metamorphosis. All of these are magical realism, in which an uncanny hint of the supernatural is added to our familiar world to challenge the way we perceive reality.

In this article, we’ll explore the core concepts that define magical realism paintings and literature. We’ll explore the breathtaking artwork of Michael Parkes and Rob Gonsalves, whose artwork we are so fortunate to feature in our South Lake Tahoe gallery. We invite you to explore this incredible art genre with us and come away inspired.

What Does Magical Realism Mean?

Many art lovers conflate magical realism with the works of the 20th century Surrealists or 19th century pictorial Symbolists, general surrealism, fabulism, or pure fantasy. It’s important to note that while those artistic movements and methods may inform magical realist painters’ work, magical realism does not fit perfectly into these boxes. Magical realism paintings or literature do not address the inexpressible, immaterial psyche in the way surrealism does. They are not illustrations of history, legend, or myth like fabulism or symbolism. They are not purely fantastical or unreal like fantasy.

In short, magical realism must contain magical elements that transform a realistic setting.

Think of magical realism painting as the difference between low fantasy in literature. High fantasy is The Lord of the Rings — it does not take place on Earth. It has entirely new races, languages, histories, and magic. Nothing is familiar, and everything is a new invention.

Low fantasy is Harry Potter — it’s set in the real world, but there are magical elements that elevate, distort, and transform what we’re familiar with. Magical realism is low fantasy: it takes motifs and settings we recognize in reality and adds surreal, fantastical motifs. Some scholars use the term magical realism to mean low fantasy.

The Origins of Magical Realism Painting

How did magical realism painting first come to be? Most art movements have tenuous, debatable origins, but magical realism has definite sparks that ignited the movement.

Magical Realism has its roots in Germany and Italy in the early 1900s. The German term
“magischer realismus” was first coined 1925 by art critic Franz Roh in his book Nach Expressionismus: Magischer Realismus (After Expressionism: Magical Realism).

Franz Roh emphasizes in his book that magical realism paintings must contain these elements:

  • Realism’s accurate detail and photographic clarity
  • The magical nature of the real, normal world: how normal objects can sometimes take on fantastic appearances

As you can see, the second does not quite align with our previous definition. Like many art movements, it is subject to interpretation, and magical realism today has transformed beyond Roh’s original definition.

Roh’s book was soon translated into Spanish, which resulted in the magical realism movement catapulting in South America. This concept inspired authors and artists, including the famous author Gabriel García Márquez, author of Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). This genre is still growing in popularity, both in art and literature.

Michael Parkes: Master Magical Realism Artist

The magical realism paintings of Michael Parkes both exemplify the genre and take it to a whole new level. Parkes’ artworks feature several recurring motifs inspired by his philosophical and mythological studies, including mermaids, angels, fairies, and mythical beasts like centaurs.

Parkes has also mastered the technical aspects of realism, and his still life paintings perfectly depict the world as we see it. This is an instrumental part of the genre: incorporating both real and fantasy elements with meticulous technical skill, and Michael Parkes accomplishes this perfectly.

Michael Parkes magical realism painting of a ballerina floating in the sky
Michael Parkes, Tuesday’s Child, Limited Edition Canvas at Marcus Ashley Gallery

Michael Parkes does not just produce magical realism paintings — he has also mastered the mediums of stone lithography, vellum sketches, and bronze casting. His artwork comes to life in three dimensions while retaining fantastical themes and evocative human and animal figures.

The magical realism painting As Above and So Below by artist Rob Gonsalves, showing a city made of cave stalagmites
Robert Gonsalves, As Above and So Below, Limited Edition Print at Marcus Ashley Gallery

Rob Gonsalves

Another renowned magical realism artist, Rob Gonsalves’ paintings were influenced by the paradoxical creations of René Magritte and M.C. Escher. While much of Gonsalves’ art has been deemed surrealism, he is classed as a magical realism painter for his consistent involvement of real, tangible human activities. 

Gonsalves included many tricks of the eye (trompe-l’oeil) in his artwork, much like M.C. Escher. His works encourage you to peer closer to see what’s real and what’s an illusion, bending your perception of reality. Gonsalves wanted to display the human desire to “believe the impossible” through his artwork. 

Gonsalves sadly passed away in 2017, and we are honored to keep his creative spirit alive by featuring some of his most magnificent works at Marcus Ashley Gallery.

Witness Magical Realism Paintings at Marcus Ashley Gallery

Our online gallery is an incredible way to get lost in magical realism paintings from the comfort of your home, but the experience of seeing these paintings in person is incomparable.

We invite you to come to our gallery in beautiful South Lake Tahoe to witness work from renowned magical realism artists. With our gallery services, you can also consider adding originals or limited editions to your personal collection.

From our family to yours, welcome to Marcus Ashley Gallery!

The Jack Storms Process: How He Makes Exquisite Optical Glass Art

The magical, intricate glass sculptures created by artist Jack Storms are both dazzling and puzzling at first sight. How can light reflect in the interior of the glass in such intricate patterns, and how can glass be carved in such a way while still preserving its structural integrity?

While true understanding of this art form takes decades to master, we’ll do our best to unravel the mysteries of optical glass art and the Jack Storms process of sculpture-making. Don’t forget to explore the Jack Storms collection in our online gallery, or in person at Marcus Ashley Gallery.

What Is Optical Glass Art?

Optical glass art is a remarkably unique sculpture medium. Unlike traditional glass art, in the Jack Storms process, there is no heat involved. The cold glass process includes only cutting, polishing, and laminating the glass.

The sculptures start with a large block of lead crystal. Lead crystal is a kind of glass that contains at least 24% lead oxide. Lead crystal has superior shine and brilliance when cut, and is often found in fine antique glassware made before lead was commonly known to be toxic for drinking. Without heat, lead crystal is exceptionally difficult to work with.

To create his pieces, Jack Storms slices the lead crystal in geometric patterns. Then, he inserts slivers of dichroic glass with intense precision into the slices, carefully gluing and sealing them into place with high-end epoxy. Dichroic glass is a coated, iridescent material that shifts colors depending on the view angle, and has been used for a startling visual effect in glasswork for centuries.

Light passes through the lead crystal differently than the dichroic glass. The Jack Storms process involves carefully paying attention to the refractive index: the rate at which light passes through the material. The epoxy shares the same refractive index as the dichroic glass, but not the lead crystal. By paying attention to this scientific aspect, Jack Storms can create illusions of depth within the glass itself, as if elements are suspended within the glass.

The resulting piece of optical glass art has to be seen to be believed. The light plays off of the hundreds of surfaces in a dazzling display of prismatic effects, creating what resembles a sparkling kaleidoscope. The effect is not chaotic; it is startlingly perfect and geometric, almost alien. Indeed, two of Jack Storms’ art pieces were used in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy in the background of an alien planet scene!

How Unique is the Jack Storms Process?

Jack Storms is one of only three prominent cold glass craftsmen in the world. Why? Cold glass, as the process is also known, is an extremely difficult craft to master and requires specialized tools that few people have access to.

Additionally, Jack Storms’ process can be very dangerous. Storms lost sight in his right eye after a piece of glass flew off the lathe while working. The accident took him away from his craft for almost a year, but he came back to it with renewed vigor, letting nothing stop him from pursuing his passion.

Each of his optical glass art pieces takes around 8 to 18 weeks to complete — sometimes years. The tolerance and precision required, as well as the skill and experience, makes each piece a daunting and time-consuming challenge. There are no shortcuts with this work: each individual lamination is a laborious task that requires intense focus and patience.

The work is highly tactical and mathematical, but it is not without artistic spirit and passion. Storms takes great care to incorporate famous art ratios found in nature, including the Fibonacci sequence. Many of Storms’ finest pieces are inspired by his greatest loves in life, his wife and son, and he pours his love for them into all his work.

Experience Jack Storms Art In Person at Marcus Ashley Gallery

Marcus Ashley Gallery is very proud to host several of Jack Storms’ most stunning optical glass creations. You can come see them for yourself in our premier gallery in South Lake Tahoe, where we feature some of the most recognizable contemporary artists of the 21st century.

We strive to make both our online gallery and our physical location a welcoming, inspiring experience. If you have any questions about purchasing Jack Storms optical glass art for your collection, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our skilled art consultants.

Welcome to the gallery!

The Benefits of Fine Art Consulting for Collectors

An art consultant has a unique job in the art world, and it’s much more varied and nuanced than people might think. Not only does this job require years of education and experience, but it also requires the consultant to make personal, long-standing connections with both their clients, the artists, and industry professionals. 

Art buying, preserving, and collecting is infinitely easier when you consider art consulting services. Consultants have knowledge that encompasses both the personal, intangible nature of artwork as well as the technicalities of collecting, including conservation and insurance policies. 

At Marcus Ashley Gallery, we’re more than familiar with the nuances of art collecting and consulting, and we are happy to walk you through the benefits of hiring an art consultant for your collection. 

Here are four essential services that fine art consulting can bring to your personal or professional collection.

1: Sourcing Rare or Niche Artwork

An art consultant can offer you the resources, relationships, and industry connections to help source artwork that an average collector will almost certainly not have.

When you’re interested in collecting rare artwork from an elusive or deceased artist, the journey doesn’t have to feel as arduous as an Indiana Jones adventure. You simply need to contact the people with the right contacts who can find the right leads. 

2: Insurance and Valuation Knowledge

Group of people at a gallery working together on client projects

Fine artwork is valuable according to both the collectors with a personal connection to it and insurance companies. Having an insurance policy for your collection is critical for both your finances and your collection’s integrity.

Accidents happen. Just as in the case with your home, your vehicle, or any other valuables you may have, you need to protect your art collection against the unexpected. Any art consulting service should offer in-depth knowledge of art insurance policies and should be able to help point you in the right direction to the correct policies for your unique collection.

Furthermore, your artwork should come with a Certificate of Replacement Value not just for insurance purposes, but for planning for your future. Fine art consulting can help you accurately evaluate your artwork for purposes such as estate planning or inventory management, for example.

3: Conservation Knowledge

A major part of keeping a collection is preserving your artwork. If you plan on displaying your artwork for a personal or public collection, you need to protect it as best as you possibly can. Displaying artwork safely is not often intuitive, and it’s not just as simple as purchasing an expensive frame. Materials can experience chemical reactions or require a certain air quality or light exposure in order to last as long as they can.

Working with an expert helps give you the historical and technical knowledge to know how to preserve rare and/or fragile pieces of artwork. An art consultant can also provide referrals and recommendations to technical specialists if you want to have additional support for preserving your collection.

4: Defining Your Brand Image and/or Personal Style

Over time, an art consultant will familiarize themselves with your preferred art style and what captures your imagination. If you develop a long-standing connection, they will be able to discover captivating artwork that you may never have thought to discover yourself. 

It’s also a good choice to opt for fine art consulting services for both practical and ideological reasons. If you’re looking to further your art collection and build your estate with art that inspires generations and supports hardworking creatives, an art consultant is an invaluable resource to you. 

Furthermore, if you’re collecting artwork to decorate an office or other commercial or retail space, you will need to choose the art carefully that complements your brand’s interior aesthetic and company messaging. Art consulting can help you source artwork that will tell your brand’s story.

No matter why you’re building your art collection, having someone by your side who specializes in the work is advantageous. If you’d like to contact a consultant to learn more about gallery services, then we encourage you to reach out to our team at Marcus Ashley Gallery.

Marcus Ashley’s Guide to Buying Original Art Online

Whether you’ve envisioned an ideal piece of original artwork for your living space or you’re not even sure how to start looking for one, there’s a lot you need to know about buying original art online. The world of art collecting is vast and fraught with pitfalls, but with this guide, it doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Our knowledgeable art consultants have decades of experience finding and displaying original artwork for homes and collections around the world. 

This Marcus Ashley Gallery guide is here for you as a resource, providing guidance as a learning tool and great checklist to ensure you have all of the essential information for buying art online.

1: Determine Your Artwork’s Authenticity

If you’ve been on the internet for any period of time, you should know that just because something claims to be true doesn’t mean it really is (or that it’s legally obligated to be). It serves that the primary concern most collectors have when buying original art online is determining its authenticity.

The internet is far more regulated nowadays than it once was. There are ways to ensure your artwork is an authentic original without having to see it in person. Here’s how:

  • Require a Certificate of Authenticity (CoA) AND a Certificate of Replacement Value. A CoA will verify the legitimacy of the artwork. In some states, these are required by law. A Certificate of Replacement Value will ensure its worth for insurance purposes, further legitimizing the artwork. 
  • Require an artist signature. If your artwork is unsigned, an appraiser cannot begin to validate it. Without a verifiable signature, it could be as worthless as a poster.
  • Look for free returns. A dealer who can guarantee authenticity should also guarantee free returns in case of dissatisfaction. 
  • If possible, consider a private showing. If you want to learn how to buy and where to buy original art online, you are likely not close enough to the artwork for this to be an option. Just know that a private home viewing is a likely possibility if you live close enough to the seller in question.
    • Note that if you are not local, our art consultants can meet with you virtually via a video call. We will look over artwork together on this call, offer our insights on what we would recommend, and also help you select your custom framing.

2: Hire an Art Consultant

This may seem like a daunting amount of research for a beginning collector, especially if you have limited prior knowledge or experience buying original art online.

That’s where an art consultant comes in. A consultant will have the expertise and knowledge you need to make educated decisions regarding sourcing artwork, procuring it, acquiring insurance policies, and more. Perhaps most importantly, they will have the historical and technical knowledge regarding fine artwork that will allow you to verify the worth and authenticity of artwork beyond its intrinsic value. 

Any experienced collector will proclaim the importance of a skilled, experienced art consultant. If you’re in doubt when learning how to buy and where to buy original art online, trust the professionals whose job it is to make these decisions.

3: Perform the Necessary Due Diligence, and Be Skeptical of Low Prices

Scams exist. Forgeries exist. It’s an unfortunate truth in the art world, and it’s existed for centuries. In the world of online art collecting, these problems multiply. While the fault of selling fake originals ultimately comes down to the seller, buyers do have a certain legal and personal responsibility to protect themselves. Don’t neglect to perform due diligence and consult experts when learning how to buy art online. 

Furthermore, fine art is valuable, and not just for its aesthetic appearance. You’re paying for the skill and expertise of the artist, the often dozens of hours of labor they put into the work, and their own creative mind, which is irreplaceable and invaluable. Hence, if the price of original art online is too good to be true, it probably is, unless you find a seller who is totally unaware of the value of their piece. Always have a healthy level of skepticism when it comes to low online prices. 

4: Find a Seller and/or Gallery with a Longstanding Reputation

Image of a gallery wall at Marcus Ashley Gallery in South Lake Tahoe

As with making any purchase online, a key technique for buying original art online is to look at the reputation and experience of the seller via third-party accounts. Look for unbiased reviewers on sites like Yelp or their Google page. 

Your best bet is purchasing art from a gallery that has been trusted by professionals and collectors for decades, such as Marcus Ashley Gallery. With a long-standing reputation as a trusted destination for fine art, you can trust our online gallery for premier service and consultation.

Buying original art online is simple with the help of the knowledgeable staff at our gallery. Contact us with any questions. We’re here to help!