In the Suburbs: Talented Fairfield artist begins his newest show

Every night when I walk through our living room on my way up to bed and again in the morning before I take our dog Blake out, I stop for a few minutes to look at the striking and peaceful oil painting of Short Beach done by Fairfield artist Jason Pritchard.

I fell in love with the painting when Jason exhibited his Fairfield County seascapes at the Fairfield University Bookstore about three years ago and bought it right after the exhibition ended. I’ve never been sorry.

The piece, which adorns a wall just inside our living room, captures the quietness of the beach and immediately takes me there in my mind as I scan the landscape. I am hardly an expert in fine art, but there is just something about Jason’s work that brings to life this seascape and the many others he shows on his website www.jasonpritchardart.com. And we’ve had many compliments on the seascape. I’ve gladly directed friends to Jason’s website to check out the more than 40 paintings he completed of Fairfield County beaches.

I couldn’t have been happier recently to receive Jason’s invitation to his newest exhibition, “Beside the Seaside, Beside the Sea,” at Artplace Gallery in Fairfield, which ends Sept. 26. There are 23 paintings in total for his latest solo show and Jason asked if I might be able to come by the gallery over this weekend for his opening reception. I am hoping to do that.

When I asked him what will be new or different about the paintings in the exhibition, he said, “The main update for this show is my work on Cape Cod paintings as part of a new project I’m currently working on. There will be nine in this show out of a total of 40 separate paintings I’ve painted of the Cape sequentially from Bourne up to Hyannis so far.”

There are some new ones too of Fairfield, Southport, Westport and others in Fairfield County. There’s also one of Acadia National Park in Maine. There are some larger scale pieces this time around.

“Only other thing is being selected by Cape Cod Art Magazine last year in their 'Emerging Artist' category,” he told me.

Following Jason’s solo exhibition at the Bookstore some three years ago, I asked if we could spend some time talking about his background for a piece I wanted to write. We met on a casual Sunday morning and chatted about how Jason’s initial interest in art evolved into his oil -painting adventure.

Jason is originally from the United Kingdom. His father owned a printing company where Jason found plenty of paper for drawing and was inspired by one his father’s clients, an impression artist. He immodestly shared that he had always been good at drawing. He is hardly a “starving artist” and during the week he works in Manhattan as a project manager in the financial services industry. Some 11 years ago, Jason and his wife and family moved to Fairfield.

He said the real turning point for becoming an artist was during a trip to Africa in 2003 when his digital photos were lost during processing. He recognized that the only way to recapture the beauty of sites during his trip was to paint them while they were still fresh in his memory — something he still does.

What really fascinated me in our original conversation was Jason’s explanation of his planning and painting process. While uncomplicated, it is nevertheless pretty intense and includes a lot of detail work. He may spend at least a couple of weekends at a site, often in different kinds of weather and at different times of day. As he told me, “I walk the beach, taking some candid photographs, stopping to make notes on the details I want to capture and sketching.”

I am looking forward to Jason’s reception this weekend and the opportunity to see his next chapter in his ongoing art adventure. And while I won’t be at the exhibition with an eye toward finding another painting, I am keeping an open mind about expanding my Jason Pritchard collection.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at stevengaynes44@gmail.com.