I search for beauty in the natural world and in everyday things. I work primarily in oil, from life and from my photographs. I love to see how light transforms objects and places, and to capture that transformation in paint.
Eleanor Blair graduated from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City in 1969. She moved to Gainesville in 1971 and has been painting Central Florida scenes since that time. She is a well-known member of the art community in Gainesville; exhibiting her work in local art festivals, and performing on stage with the Gainesville Orchestra. (See the video on YouTube: Chamber Orchestra Painting 2010) This year, her paintings are featured on both the Downtown Festival poster, and the WUFT-FM poster.
Blair paints in oil on canvas. Her work combines visual accuracy with painterly brush work and rich color. Florida landscape is her primary subject, but her portraits, still life, interiors and architectural studies demonstrate her fine draftsmanship and sense of light.
An essay about my philosophy and process:
We have all had those moments; a fleeting trick of light, a sentimental subject, a random combination of shapes and shadows, and we are transported; in the presence of beauty. It might be a glimpse of something seen in the rearview mirror silhouetted against the cloudy sky ahead, or the glow of unexpected color through a backlit object. It could be dishes in the sink, or your feet popping up through the suds at the opposite end of the tub. Moments when you say, “oh I wish I was a painter, so I could paint that!” My work celebrates those moments, intimate and universal, that remind us that there is beauty in the world, all around us, and everywhere.
I exclusively worked from life in my early years. In 1977, I began using the camera to make the world hold still, so I could take my time and focus. I continue to paint and draw from life; I enjoy the immediacy of that. But now, most of my paintings are the result of conscious design. I use the camera and the computer to give me more control over my reference material. I apply layers of opaque and transparent oils over stretched canvas that has been primed with toned gesso. I begin the painting with a value study using warm and cool pigments mixed to a dark transparent neutral. When that’s dry, I add transparent washes of brighter colors, and paint light opaque paint into that. Later, I redefine the dark areas with dense mixtures of blue and red and green. I may paint as many as six layers, over a period of a few weeks, before a painting is done, although frequently I manage to finish a piece very quickly.
Landscape is my primary subject, because of its universal appeal, and because I like having an excuse to spend time outdoors in beautiful places around the world. But inspiration comes to me randomly and unexpectedly, in my day-to-day life. Then I’m glad I’m a painter, so I can paint that.
The Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida
Matheson Historical Center, Gainesville, Florida
Polk County Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida
Public and Corporate Collections
Arts In Medicine at Shands Hospital
Baptist Medical Center South
City of Coral Gables
City of Winter Park
First Florida Bank
Flagler Savings and Loan
Florida International University
Grand Cypress, Tampa
HavaTampa/Phillies Cigars Inc.
Holland and Knight
Jupiter Medical Center
Lee Moffit Cancer Center and Research Institute
NCNB, Tampa, Venice, and Port Charlotte
North Florida Regional Hospital
Shell Oil Company
University Centre Hotel, Gainesville, FL
University of Florida
University of Tampa
Volusia County Agricultural Center
Wachovia Bank and Trust, Winston-Salem
Articles and Reviews
2009 “Art of Success” by Kevin Ireland, North Central Florida Business Report
2005 American Art Collector Volume 1, Book 4
2004 Gainesville Magazine
2003 Gainesville Today ‘Eleanor Blair’ by David Greenberg
2003 Boca Raton Magazine Feb/March issue, by Aime Palmer
1999 “Coast To Coast, Florida Landscape” by Gary Libby, Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences
1997 “The Fine Artist” by Allison Burke; Gainesville Sun
1990 “Making Room For Art”, by Mary Newell; Gainesville Sun
1985 “Eleanor Blair, Artist” by Patti Street, Gainesville Sun
1981 “Eleanor Blair: A Pragmatic Approach to Painting”, by S. Hodges, American Artist
Critical Statements Regarding Blair’s Art
“Her concerns are reduced to the classic painterly problems of light and color.”
Steve Hodges, American Artist”
“The total effect is a nostalgic synthesis of various 19th century trends including
Romanticism, Mysticism, and Impressionism.” Elihu Edelson, Jacksonville Journal
“Gainesville painter Eleanor Blair simply translates the sunny, transcendent beauty of the
world around her onto canvas.” Laura Stewart, Tampa Tribune
“Eleanor Blair of Gainesville employs an impressionistic technique without relying on
the palette associated with it. Her work is concerned with the relationship between the
land and the viewer’s perception to it, with the way we see color and the way light affects
color.” Chuck Twardy, Orlando Sentinel
“The state’s intense light and lush greenery are especially evident.”
John Wirt, Daytona Beach News Journal