Marshall Noice and his fascination with seeing the landscape in color!
The Aura of Nature
For those who love the land, there is a quality to nature’s beauty that is difficult to express – until you see a painting by Marshall Noice. In his light – and color-filled works, the landscape comes dazzlingly alive. Noice combines the ethereal effects of light with the visual impact of an expanded color palette to produce canvases that thrill the senses while speaking to the soul on a deeper level.
Noice paints the dramatic terrain of the west – its powerful mountain ranges, dense stands of trees, and sweeping lines. His vistas have an abstract quality which lends a dreamlike feeling to them.
“Painting is my way of engaging with the land,” professes Noice, who was born in North Dakota and has lived most of his life in Montana. “The land has fascinated me as much as anything in my life. I’m always observing the light.”
Noice had the great fortune to work with Ansel Adams, the celebrated nature photographer. “He was the biggest influence in my art,” remarks Noice. “With him I gained the ability to see light. He was an extraordinarily gifted teacher.”
Noice’s work as a photographer has helped him immeasurably as a painter. “Getting the light right is the biggest challenge. It is as much about the air between objects as about the objects themselves. That look of luminosity is difficult for most artists. But when you can see it in the environment, it all comes together.” He still takes photographs but concentrates his energy on oil painting, noting, “You can’t match the richness of oil on canvas.”
The luminous quality in Noice’s work is inspired by another great artist – Mark Rothko. A pivotal experience for Noice as a youth was seeing a Rothko exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. “I was literally weak in the knees. I still think of those paintings. Rothko had created edges that heightened the sense of luminosity. I believe he understood light better than anyone else. Light just emanates from his paintings.”
Noice achieves this same mastery of color relationships in his own work. “I capture a sense of place, but it’s my sense, my color. It’s delicate, because color is a strange animal. I work to create tone and value in an expressive way that resonates with me. At times, my color is almost outrageous – on the edge of being out of control.” Perhaps it is that quality that makes each painting so exciting. “I love the great colors available to artists these days,” he confides. “The old masters didn’t have access to them. Who knows what their work would have looked like if they had?”
Three themes run through Noice’s life: art, nature and music. He describes himself as having been “a voracious image maker since age two,” growing up in an intellectual family that contained artists and musicians on both sides.
His love of the outdoors began when his father, a college professor, moved the family from their home in Minnesota to Kalispell, Montana. The area in and around Glacier Park, he relates, “became a touchstone for me. It is country I respond to, where I feel most centered.” Roaming around the Rockies, camping and hiking, he sketches and photographs in black and white. “I want my memory of the scene to determine my palette,” he points out.
Noice played drums from an early age and performed professionally for four years. He plays drums today in a blues band and also in a 14 piece Latin jazz orchestra. “People ask if music influences my painting, and I say ‘Oh, yes!’” His tastes are eclectic – he might listen to John Coltrane and Cuban jazz followed by Handel’s Messiah.
The vigorous oil paintings Noice creates have won him acclaim and awards. In addition to landscapes, he has painted a series of works depicting nineteenth – century Plains Indian war shirts found in an extraordinary collection of artifacts in Canada. The artifact images are more representational than his landscapes, which tend toward abstraction.
Noice has worked in various styles during his career and states, “I feel a painting has to work on a purely abstract level.” His landscapes often contain stands of lodgepoles pines and aspens that function as abstract elements. The artist comments: “I love the way the views in the west are broken by a curtain of trees. I enjoy the complications and layering in the vistas, and the bands of color in the landscape. These are like Rothko paintings in nature.”
Always looking for the light, Noice finds a visual richness in his work that changes in different settings and times of day. “When you see different things going on in the scene, it has more impact,” he believes.
Today, Noice enjoys an active life of painting in Kalispell, Montana, where he lives with his wife and four children – a son and three daughters. He finds his work continues to evolve, becoming more complex, with more layering and a more sophisticated approach to color.
“Painting for me is pure joy,” he says. “There’s no labor in it. Of course, I struggle. But I’m fascinated by creating a painting that holds the spirit of a place.” Marshall has been showing at Waxlander Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Santa Fe for over 16 years.
View available Marshall Noice paintings at http://waxlander.com/artist/21/Marshall-Noice!