Shaping Serenity: The Art of John Encinias

Posted on May 25, 2017 by Blaine Smith in

Late Afternoon Sun by John Encinias. Oil on linen, 24″ x 36″

Contemporary impressionist John Encinias paints in the unassuming manner of one not affected by decades of continued success in the Western art market with works housed in private, corporate, and museum collections.  In fact, he embodies many of the same qualities his works communicate: peaceful, pensive, and wistful. The hushed and restrained feeling in the work speaks of a confident and experienced artist. His paintings focus more on pictorializing the quiet repose of a setting and less on rendering a scene in oils. To put it another way, you understand how the artist perceives what he sees, a hallmark of the impressionist style.

An Autumn Afternoon by John Encinias. Oil on panel, 20″ x 24″

A plein air painter, Encinias enjoys creating his work outdoors. “You lose liveliness in the work by painting only in the studio,” Encinias said. While he depicts a number of scenes including still-life’s, he often returns to familiar locations to paint. He has painted one particular spot on Clear Creek for decades. He can continue to reevaluate the same settings because he does not set out to portray a particular creek or group of trees, but rather to capture light’s effect on the water and land in various conditions. He sees the abstract concept of light hitting forms, not the specific objects themselves. “All you have to do is get an impression of what it is you are drawing,” he added.

This seemingly simple idea of painting the impression takes cues from masters such as Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley. Beyond this style, even abstract expressionist Franz Kline provides inspiration and influence for Encinias’ approach to breaking the subject matter into shapes of color. The abstract method of seeing shapes instead of objects allows him to focus on light and composition, interestingly resulting in impressionist paintings that border on realism.

Last Light of Day by John Encinias. Oil on linen, 10″ x 20″.

Consider Last Light of Day, one of the works currently on display at the Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition & Sale®. When painting it, as he does with all works en plein air, he spends a few hours outside capturing the image on canvas. First he shields his mind in quiet isolation, entering a solitude of creativity. Then, he blocks in the forms of the composition and begins adding in the shapes of colors he sees and foresees.  He waits until the light falls just right to capture the shades perfectly. In a piece where the light source changes by the minute, he must anticipate the angles and colors and later follow up in the studio with a photograph to complete the final touches. The result shows a settled yet hurried feeling, as if hastening home at days end.

When viewing his work, you immediately know you are looking at a skilled artist. Having entered the Western art market in the 1970s, Encinias feels lucky to have gotten in just as the market began rapid growth. He enjoys a consistently strong career and said that even after doing it for 40 years painting still seems fresh and enjoyable. More personal touches go into the work now as he feels a freedom to enjoy the process of creation in a way he never could when mastery of his craft and dedication to the administrative side of art required more attention. He suggests that a comfort of tackling more abstract representations has come with age, and this rejuvenates him as if he has begun painting for the first time. To the viewer, the works represent the craftsmanship of a true master. The somber tone connects you to each piece just as it connects the artist to his work: unassuming, yet powerful paintings created passionately by a calm, reposed, and talented artist.


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About Blaine

Blaine Smith works in the Traffic & Graphics Department at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. His love of history and museums was spawned by his grandfather, who owns his own museum in southeast Colorado.