By Megan Blauvelt
Many aspiring artists find the uncertainty of success in the art world intimidating enough even before a single piece has been created.
For Lynette Lombard, the focus of Rider’s most recent art gallery exhibition “Painting Place,” open until Feb. 26, the challenges that come along with choosing artistry as a profession have continued even after finding success.
“Landscapes are a challenge for me and I like a challenge,” Lombard said. “It pulls me in the space [of the canvas]. There has to be a push and pull to the entire painting from the colors and geometry. And when I work with landscapes, I become vulnerable and connected to myself with the experience and place [I am situated in]. In the end, painting matters because the emotion reconnects with the impulses of paintings.”
The exhibition was accompanied by an opening reception and artist’s talk on Tuesday night. Lombard started the talk by explaining her first encounter with paint. She joked about her initial reaction, explaining that even though she had originally been interested in sculpture, she destroyed every sculpture she had created after discovering the world of paint.
“Painting is a way of life, and thus you have to keep the motivation,” she said about her chosen medium.
She also seemed quite enthusiastic while describing each of her paintings. Some slides she showed even consisted of paintings undergoing changes before they could be shown in the gallery.
Lombard, an associate professor of art at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., explained the complicated process behind each of her paintings.
“I first look for a site,” she said. “There h
as to be something complex about the site with color relationships and geometry, both drawing the viewer in.”
She also acknowledged that she is somewhat of an environmentalist by using landscape as her motif.
“Of course it won’t cause people to save energy or that sort of thing,” she said. “But it reminds me that there’s terrific erosion in nature.”
In addition to teaching at Knox College, Lombard has also been exhibited in both the U.S. and abroad. She studied at Yale University; Goldsmiths College of Art, part of the University of London; and the New York Studio School. She is currently a member of the Bowery Gallery in New York, along with Deborah Rosenthal, professor and curator of Lombard’s exhibition at Rider.
“We both think about the same kind of paint, but have no influence on each other,” Rosenthal said. “Being curator gives me a chance to bring interesting artists with national prominence to Rider University.”
Lombard has also spent time with Rosenthal’s students, by lending her advice and paying a visit to the Princeton University Art Museum with them.
“I am very pleased to be showing the work of an artist who is also willing to look at [my students’] works,” Rosenthal said.
Along with learning and working in both London and New York, Lombard has also worked in Spain, near the Mediterranean Sea.
She said no matter where she is, however, her studio gives her the most clarity, telling of a time when she was in Spain and ended up bringing her work back to her New York studio.
“I’m just so bombarded by so much, but in the studio, I can focus on the important space of the painting,” Lombard said.
The emotional connection Lombard seems to feel with her paintings appears to be affecting viewers as well, at least according to art critic Lance Esplund.
“Lombard’s collisions of color convey the activity and immediacy of the artist’s eye as it darts from motif to palette to canvas in an attempt to rein in everything before the light changes,” he said. “Our senses are heightened.”