Painting a Picture of Gordon Haas
From the Brandywine Valley to Positano, Italy
You can find him deep in the Brandywine Valley, creating colorful strokes with his paintbrush as he gazes at the long-standing Lumberville walking bridge. The sun beams high in the sky overlooking the lavish trees that line either side of the canal, as the vivid-colored leaves reflect seamlessly upon the crisp, blue Delaware River. This impeccable piece of scenery is what keeps Gordon Haas coming back to his favorite spot year after year. “It’s been the same for 150 years,” he said. “It’s home to me.”
For Gordon Haas, painting local themes has always been his favorite pastime. Whether he places his easel in the bountiful valley of New York or on the hills leading down the coast of Positano, Italy, “it is always fun to expand,” Haas said, and expanding is exactly what this artist has set out to do.
At the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, Haas majored in illustration. After receiving his BFA in 1984, he worked in New York City, freelancing book covers and magazine layouts. After about 10 years, Haas found himself leaning closer to impressionism and ready to shift into the next phase of his career.
“I’ve just always had way more fun painting,” Haas admits. “My Uncle was an artist. Painting was just always there growing up.”
Haas decided to shift his focus from illustration to painting, setting himself apart from other artists by developing his own methods.
“A lot of artists paint, ‘willy nilly’, or without a process,” Haas explains. “I developed a color theory; I paint exactly what I see.”
He developed his color theory to express a mood using a complex series of colors formulating a final tone. Haas works with an arrangement of glazes to build up layers creating the final color by using the first layer opposite on the color wheel.
“Say if the tree was green, I would paint it red,” Haas explains. “The sun is warm, anything in a shadow is cool. Essentially, I paint the first layer contradictory, exactly like what you see.”
Haas’ unique methods include a distinct beginning, middle, and end phase to each painting, regardless of the subject. For Haas, the outcome of these paintings varies dramatically and so does the time he spends working on them.
“A fabulous painting can take however long you need it to take,” he said. “Time is irrelevant.”
Since scenery is so unpredictable, the artist has a quick way of working, but makes sure not to cover up his mistakes. “I love painting sunsets. But the problem with sunsets is that in 20 minutes, you are looking at a black sky. You never know what you are going to get,” he states. “Sometimes you just have to scrap it, start something else, and come back to it later.”
Today, Haas lives, paints, and runs his gallery in Lambertville, NJ, located right on the historic Delaware River. He is never at a loss for subjects in his hometown, or in the hills of Positano, Italy, where Haas and his wife spend countless weeks vacationing.
“Painting in Italy is like nothing else,” Haas said. Many of his exquisite paintings are sold in a small gallery located in the hills of Positano where the views are absolutely breathtaking.
Haas continues to present his artwork at various exhibitions up and down the east coast. Through out the year, he offers Plein Air workshops in hopes of instilling a passion for art in others, just like it was once instilled inside him.
For more, visit gordonhaas.com or call 609.937.7988.