Allen Blagden is one of the nation's leading watercolorists. His penetrating renderings of sky and water, people, animals and landscapes fall within the academic traditions of the best of American realist painting.
By Caroline Welsh
Allen Blagden begins his works with intense observation of his subject. Highly detailed pencil drawings follow to understand form, structure, and texture. Layers of watercolor build up form and detail in a slow and painstaking process to create rich contrasts and textures. He is inspired by a wide variety of subjects and is equally skilled in rendering insightful portraits of people (friends and notables), birds and animals, or the landscapes of his life: his beloved Connecticut home, summers in the Adirondacks and Maine.
Blagden’s compositions are meticulously controlled. At once austere and timeless, delicate and refined, spare and sensitive, they are classical in their simplicity and purity of craftsmanship, intense yet understated. His technical skill renders works precise in atmosphere, space, light, anatomy and form, and highly nuanced in the expression of the emotions he feels and communicates about his subjects. His strong sense of design makes compelling compositions whether the subject is complex or simple. Blagden’s painterly works are reminiscent of the masterpieces of Louis Agassiz Fuertes and Winslow Homer in their technical competence and expressive qualities. The artist invites his viewers to engage with his animal subject with empathy and curiosity. His goal is to increase our awareness of the importance of wildlife and nature to the quality of human life.
Caroline Welsh curated Moments. She is the former Director and Chief Curator of the Adirondack Museum.
Allen Blagden was born into a family of artists with long-time Adirondack connections to Upper Saranac Lake. He began painting with his artist father, Thomas Blagden, and continued at Hotchkiss School, Cornell University, and as an illustrator for the Department of Ornithology at the Smithsonian Institution. In addition to his bird and animal paintings, he is known for his portraits and landscapes that reflect his life-long association with Salisbury, Connecticut and the Adirondacks.
His style is realistic in the tradition of Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth. His work has won many awards and resides in museum and private collections across the country. Blagden’s great talent and skill across most of the visual media as well as his deep empathy for his subjects distinguishes his wildlife art from his peers. This empathy results from intimate and first hand encounters with creatures in nature. Blagden’s sensitivity to his living subjects enables him to create portrayals of exceptional beauty, pictorial accuracy and perceptivity.
Allen Blagden traveled to the Center and painted our porcupine Stickley especially for Moments.
Allen Blagden's work is in the permanent collection of the following museums:
Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, NY
Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum, Wausau, WI
New Britian Museum of American Art, New Britian, CT
Peabody Museum, New Haven, CT
Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT
Santa Fe Art Foundation, Sante Fe, NM
Terra Museum, Chicago, IL
Bennington Center for the Arts, Bennington, VT