the muse as a partner on the path.

March 6, 2023

by Tianna Godsey

Gregory Blue and his muse: Stroud

From now until early May, local West Chester-based artist Gregory Blue is spending his days both en plein air (painting outdoors) at our Stroud Preserve and in his garage-turned-studio that feels much like entering another realm. Step inside to the smell of fresh oil paint, a large easel on wheels positioned for the perfect light in the center of the room, and paintings of every size mounted on the walls and tucked away on shelves. 

Janaury 2023: Gregory Blue's artist studio

Photo: Mae Axelrod; A close-up view of paintbrushes with mini paintings on the wall behind depicting nature scenes.

Beside the easel, rests an artist’s palette with a bright rainbow of colors and others he has mixed to the side for his current piece. The finished painting on the easel has a palette of every color imaginable, from muddy browns to emerald greens. Various brushes wait at the ready for his practiced hand and the muse he considers “a partner on the path”: Stroud Preserve. 

Much like his first few paintings, Gregory’s discovering of Stroud was “unintentional, but also love at first sight.” As he describes, “Stroud was a proverbial gold mine. I would go walking there with my sketch book and easel, painting plein air and taking tons of photographs,” says Gregory.

“The muse is a partner on the path.”  

a study of nature.  

When creating the original studies of a scene he wants to paint, Gregory will sometimes begin with these plein air paintings. Other times, he works from memory or imagination. These smaller studies become the foundation for larger works. 

Janaury 2023: Gregory Blue's artist studio

Photo: Mae Axelrod; a finished painting rests on an easel in the middle of an artist’s studio

While spending time outdoors painting a particular scene, Gregory has found that one session can last no more than about two hours before he loses his “sight” of the scene. It’s why many of his studies done in-field are much smaller, and then become larger in the studio. 

For Gregory, the studies are all what he considers “abstracts,” where he plays with color, infusing as many colors as he can into one scene, and playing with the infusion of light (both its composition—ambient light and reflective light—and the three-dimensional effect it has on a natural scene). 

Gregory hopes his work will encourage others to pause while enjoying nature: to take a moment and look around; to wonder at the beauty of ripples in a creek, light playing on a downed log, the skeletal silhouette of a Sycamore tree, or a bright, snow-covered landscape. 

Photo: Mae Axelrod

a winter (wonder)land. 

Gregory Blue paints all seasons in his work, but he admits that winter is his favorite. “Winter is the most colorful season of the year, because you have the snow which reflects the sky and bounces light all over the place,” he shares.

The trick of the eye in many of his paintings is due to the focus on diffused light and color. While some of his snowy landscapes appear white toned, he has actually painted the snow blue. Our eye is tricked into seeing the snow as a glowing white, absorbing the shadow from limbs of the trees above and reflecting the sunlight as it filters down. 

an artist’s life & ‘A Year of Stroud.’ 

Gregory started painting what he calls “unintentional paintings”—more abstract than stylized and painted from memory. After painting en plein air for about a decade, he was more inspired by abstract work and the way light meets a subject. 

Photo: Mae Axelrod; January 2023: Gregory Blue’s artist studio

Gregory shares that, as an artist, he enjoys having some restrictions and boundaries to work within. They help him come up with creative solutions and find new paths to results, testing his talent and problem-solving as an artist. 

When asked how he is able to part with his original artwork, Gregory had a wonderful answer: “I just want to keep making paintings. My favorite painting? The next one.” 

Gregory Blue will be donating 10% of all proceeds from his Stroud paintings to Natural Lands in a generous partnership.

Keep an eye out for more updates on Gregory Blue’s project: A Year of Stroud. 

meet and greet the artist. 

Join us on March 13, 2024, at Studio Incamminati (S. Philadelphia), for a meet and greet with Gregory and to see the culmination of his work in the exhibit: Gregory Blue and the Landscapes of Stroud Preserve. Mingle with like-minded individuals, and enjoy an evening of art at the Bok building. Sign up here.

The exhibit features 40+ works, large and small, inspired by Natural Lands’ Stroud Preserve and created by artist Gregory Blue over the last several years.

Studio Incamminati makes its home in South Philadelphia’s Bok building, an old school turned workspace — full of makers, businesses, nonprofits, and artists. Gregory’s work will be showcased from February 29 to May 3.

Our next event will be April 18, 2024, Art and Connect with our NextGen Council. Everyone is invited, especially if you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s. There is no charge to attend.