Escondido Creek Triptych
Marcia Burtt has created a botanical sanctuary in three paintings of Escondido Creek, commissioned for Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, California.
Blues link the paintings.
Bright blue sky peeks out above the ridge of the overlook on the center canvas and is reflected in the pool and creek on left and right paintings.
Close-up compositions are rare for paintings of this scale by Marcia Burtt. The pond spills out of the bottom of the frame, wildflowers in the meadow press up against the the picture plane, and tree trunks and limbs are cut off before revealing their height.
Big skies and fields are absent in these cropped views. Lively brush work conveying dappled light and spring flowers replaces minimalist washes. With no visible path or trail, the viewer is further secluded in the moment. But glimpses of the sky, reflected and extending to infinity, connect us and the paintings back to the world beyond.
The paintings above of Torrey Pines State Reserve were painted for Scripps Prebys Cardiovascular Institute prior to the Encinitas paintings. In contrast to the triptych, the panoramic compositions show the landscape on a larger scale, encompassing the viewer. Grandeur, rather than intimacy.
“I painted these in bursts of effort over the period of a year. In April 2018 I met Bill Dewey at the Santa Barbara airport; he piloted his Cessna to the Palomar Airport where we were met by a representative of Scripps. She drove us to the Wildflower Walk in the Olivenhain development, a lengthy public access walkway featuring Escondido Creek overlooked by an elevated path giving views down on greenery surrounding the creek as well as foothills separating us from the ocean to the west.
"Because I couldn’t be gone from home more than a few hours, Bill took hundreds of photos along the Wildflower Walk to serve as records for me to paint from. He already knew the area and recognized landmarks he remembered from hiking there as a boy. From these photos, the Scripps benefactor chose three images which I enlarged and taped to my studio wall.
"It was a new and unsettling experience for me to work entirely from photographs, not to mention photos taken by another person that were not only recordings but were also works of art in themselves, of places I had never been able to paint from life.
"There are sections of these three canvases covered by twenty or thirty layers of paint put down as I struggled to make Escondido Creek feel as familiar as if I had stood there and worked from life."
—Marcia Burtt, 2019
Below a slide show of paintings that are similar in composition as the Scripps commissions, but on a smaller scale.
Marcia Burtt’s paintings are also available for purchase and viewing at the gallery, 1-5pm Thursday through Sunday.