“It's almost a magnetic attraction ... Sometimes it's the color, sometimes the light, sometimes simply the line of a distant ridge.”
Price range: $1,950 to 11,500
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Marshall Noice
For Marshall Noice interpreting landscapes has always been a draw even throughout his twenty-three years as a professional photographer. Though he now enjoys a national following for his vibrantly colored Contemporary Expressionist landscape paintings, it was a photography project that led Noice to change his career.
Marshall Noice spent three months photographing the artifact collection of sculptor and Blackfoot scholar Robert Scriver; shortly afterward he had a photography show at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was in Jackson that he encountered works by renowned artist Theodore Waddell. “When I saw these paintings of his, it was one of those ‘ah ha’ moments when the light bulb goes on,” Noice said. He realized he wanted to paint the artifacts he had just photographed using the loose, expressive style he admired in Waddell’s work. “I came back and started painting war shirts and headdresses.”
Largely self-schooled, having taken just a few formal classes, Marshall Noice developed artistically by studying countless art books and thousands of paintings, deconstructing what he responded to most. As a summer workshop assistant to Ansel Adams he had already learned that everybody’s eye goes first to the area of greatest contrast; he then learned about analogous color harmony from noted painter Joe Abbrescia, and took note through all of his studies of composition, use of color and application techniques.
The dedication served him well. It was the end of the 1980s when Marshall Noice loaded up his new body of work and drove to Santa Fe. And found success. “Much to my surprise, [the work] started to sell,” Noice said. With strong representation in several key art markets, Marshall Noice quickly realized he needed to spend more time painting. He moved photography back to four days a week, then three, then two. After roughly a year Noice found that he’d transitioned to the life of a full-time artist. Marshall Noice had found his greatest satisfaction in painting.
Another ‘ah ha’ moment changed his course once again. While working on the painting of a Blackfoot chief’s war shirt, the shirt’s white weasel tails began turning into a stand of aspen before his eyes. Marshall Noice had enjoyed great success with American Indian themes but now the lifelong pull toward landscapes asserted itself; Marshall Noice never looked back. And success continued.
In the same loose, expressive style in which he’d been painting Marshall Noice uses layer upon layers of brilliantly hued oil paints to capture the scenes that most inspire him. “My paintings are made in response to things I see in the natural world. They capture a place at a particular time. And they capture a moment in my sensibility.”
Marshall Noice finds himself thoroughly immersed in the life of a successful landscape painter. “It's impossible to resist the urge when the right subject matter comes before me,” he says. “It's almost a magnetic attraction ... Sometimes it's the color, sometimes the light, sometimes simply the line of a distant ridge.” Living in the west provides an endless source of daily inspiration for Marshall Noice who also easily points out that, “a literal description of landscape is not high on my list of priorities.” It is Noice’s unique sensibility that is captured in the rich emotion of each scene. Trees become blue or yellow as impression inspires; purple shadows or red hills highlight scenes with vibrant fields or rivers that draw viewers in.
“Once the painting begins,” Marshall Noice explains, “my most important job is to keep my intellect out of the way and let the painting happen. Since I'm not concerned with making a literal rendition of the scene but rather an accurate record of what I sensed when looking at the landscape, my decision-making process is necessarily different than that of most artists. I don't need to make it look right. I need to make it feel right. Occasionally while I'm working on a painting in my studio I can almost smell the rain, feel the sun, or hear the wind. When that happens I know I'm on the right track.”
Marshall Noice uses modern paint formulations to achieve the brilliant color that has come to epitomize his work, some of his more unique colorations occurring spontaneously. “My painting is done very vigorously,” he points out, “so a lot of the colors mix themselves on the canvas.” He works on a dozen or more landscape paintings at a time as he allows each of roughly ten to fifteen layers of oil paint to dry before applying the next, keeping the colors of each crisp throughout his process. Marshall Noice is now also creating smaller landscapes using pastels as his medium, proving with his Contemporary Expressionist style that pastels can be brilliant and strong and dramatically captivating.
“My work's greatest pleasure comes when I'm in the thick of the battle to let a painting emerge,” he notes. “I have my issues. What color next to that? Another line here? Take that out? Greater abstraction? Less complexity? More complexity? Simply painting, watching, concentrating, staying thoroughly engaged, alive. Not thinking. Just doing. Eventually, over hours, weeks, sometimes months or even years the problems slip away. Finally there is nothing left ... to be altered in the least. It is accomplished.” Another Marshall Noice landscape painting has emerged. Contemporary Expressionism has exhibited itself again, uniquely, powerfully and magnetically drawing us in to the entrancing world of Marshall Noice.
Artwork by Marshall Noice is included in “Art of the National Parks – Historic Connections, Contemporary Interpretations” by Jean Stern, Susan Hallstn McGarry, Terry Lawson Dunn, winner of the 2013 Best Art Book Award, out of 1200 entries, from the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.