Featured artist: Cynthia Rosen

Across the Fields, 12x24, oil on Ampersand Gessobord


From a background making non-objective art in NYC to a move to Vermont, the tides changed and a passion for plein air took hold. This love of the outdoors is additionally translating into larger studio works. Painting in the field, to limitless color. Ever-changing light, and the sound of a spinning world engages and challenges both perceptions and expression. No sooner do I embark on one path when the road turns introducing new sights and inspirations, broadening my visual vocabulary with no end in sight.


Painting the Desert, 36x60, oil on Ampersand Gessobord


Q. Do you work with a favorite color palette? Or do you work with the environment you are in?

A: My color palette is fairly standard. I lay out my palette left to right: Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue, or Phthalo Blue (depending on the season and site), Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Permanent, Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Lemon Yellow, Zinc White, and Titanium White. Occasional extra colors to enhance my palette are: Cobalt Teal (which is great for spring greens), Transparent Orange (just because I love it), Rose Madder, and Portland Grey Cool. If I am going to the coast, I will be sure to bring either Ultramarine and/or Radiant Blue. I do not carry greens, browns, or blacks. That is not to say I might not someday carry other colors to further experiment and learn.


An Autumn Snow, 18x24, oil on Ampersand Gessobord


Q. Do you have a favorite season to paint?

A: I do not have a favorite season in which to paint but rather love the challenge and changes that each season brings. Sometimes I wish they would last a bit longer, but loving to paint plein air, I cannot help but be influenced by the colors around me. For example, I find it difficult to paint a snow scene when surrounded by spring greens or the oranges of autumn.


Of Earth and Sea, 18x24, oil on Ampersand Gessobord


Q: What has been your most memorable location to paint?

A: Because I live in a land-locked state, I love any opportunity to paint along a coast. My most memorable location was Monterey, CA. I was both shocked and enthralled by the variety of colors in the water. I have rarely been to the Pacific where the water just looks lighter than that along the northern Atlantic coast. Add the excitement of the ocean crashing against the rocks both mesmerized and inspired me.


Q: Which plein air artist inspires you the most?

A: I cannot pick one single plein air painter who I find the most inspirational, but I will list a few contemporary plein air painters in alphabetical order: Slava Korolenkov, Patrick Lee, Vitaly Makarov, and Tara Will. My favorite painter of all time was Mark Rothko.


In the Land of the Red Plateaus, 22x36, oil on Ampersand Gessobord


Q: You paint both en plein air and larger studio pieces. Which is the most gratifying?

A: Painting larger than four feet gifts me with a challenge as well as a great amount of gratification. I love being able to work on a painting over time and I love the larger scale. My smaller plein air works are one-shot deals. With that said, they have and continue to teach me a tremendous amount, as well as broaden my horizons by taking me to events with unfamiliar sites and scenes. I started painting plein air as dictated by my living space, but that has changed, and I can now paint as large as I want in the studio as well. My favorite place to paint is still outside despite grappling with some technical time issues caused by my penchant for painting large with the palette knife. (It takes longer to paint with the knife). My work is still evolving, as I expect it to do forever, and I may start mixing up and using a variety of tools, but Gessobord will continue to be my favorite surface.


Human Ingenuity, 16x12, oil on Ampersand Gessobord


Q: What is the best advice you have been given? Art-related or in general.

A: The best advice I ever received was to consider the vast majority of your paintings to be part of a longer learning process as opposed to a final product in and of itself. This particularly applies to plein air, as studio paintings can be corrected over long periods. It is the advice I pass on to my students, albeit phrased differently.


Early Light, 8x10, oil on Ampersand Gessobord


Q: What do you love most about Ampersand’s Gessobord for your work?

A: Ampersand Gessobord, while seemingly incredibly smooth has enough tooth to well hold the paint. It is my favorite surface to work on. It allows for both thin or thick applications, without the insult of unintended texture. Not only does Gessobord allow me to wipe out or scratch through the paint to a stunning hard white surface, it is super easy to transport, with no worries about the surface denting. Finally, it is affordable and easy to frame within either pre-made or custom frames, as it is always perfectly sized. Finally, I have recently purchased Ampersand Pastelbord and Aquabord which I am looking forward to using. I love Ampersand's products.


Artist Bio:

Cynthia Rosen was born in Philadelphia, PA, USA. She attended the Museum School in Boston during which time she started her art career selling non-objective mixed medium works through galleries in NYC and Philadelphia and starting a not-for-profit organization that set up art programs in social service organizations (halfway houses, jails, alternative schools). Later she moved to Vermont to raise a family and turned her focus to education, focusing on art, maintaining sporadic art involvements. Later in life, she returned to making art professionally, starting with plein air. Her present art finds her still painting in the field, participating in select plein air events, or working in her newly created studio. To see more of Cynthia's work, visit her website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Featured articles:

Plein Air Magazine 2020, 2018

The Artists Road (online) 2019

Fine Art Connoisseur painting featured 2018

Southwest Art Magazine 2018

American Art Collector 2018

The Outdoor Painter (online) several years

American Art Collector 2017 (Artist Focus, Collectors Focus)


Instructional videos: Streamline Art Video: “Expressive Landscape Painting: Palette Knife in Plein Air” recently released


Faculty member: 2019 Plein Air Convention and Expo


Group shows:

2020: "Strong Women Move Mountains": Pace Center, Fryeburg Academy, ME

2019: 3-person show: "Knife to Canvas" - Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Lake Placid, NY

2018: 4-person show: “American Fauves - The Wild Ones” Arts At Denver Gallery, CO (show featured in Southwest Art) 2 person show:

2017: 3-person show: "Adept and Accomplished" 4th Corner Foundation, VT


Solo show: 2019: Desertscapes Desert Art Collection, Palm Desert, CA


Group exhibits:

2019,18,17,16: Mountain Oyster Club Art Show, Tucson, AZ

2016-2020: Various group shows California (AIS small works), Colorado (PAAC), Indiana (OPA), Maine, Maryland (MAPAPA), New York, Texas (OPS), Vermont



Helmholtz Fine Art, VT: "Kaleidoscope" and "Changing Horizons"

Lake Placid Center for the Arts/Gallery 46, NY


The Southern Vermont Art Center, VT

The Salem Community Center, NY

Small Works: American Impressionist Society

Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibit

OPA Salon Show

Outdoor Painters Society

Celebrating Women Artists, Robert Paul Gallery, VT

PAAC: National Juried Exhibit, CO

Wilson Art Museum: Vermont Painters - Past and Present



Adirondack Plein Air Festival

Bath County Plein Air Festival

Brandywine Plein Air Festival

Borrego Springs Invitational

Escalante Plein Air Festival

Harford Plein Air Festival

LBIF Plein Air Festival

Olmsted Invitational

Paint Annapolis Solomons Island Plein Air Festival



Chasen Fine Art Galleries: Richmond, VA

Gallery 46: Lake Placid, NY

Helmholtz Fine Art: Manchester, VT and Tribeca, NY

Robert Paul Galleries: Stowe, VT


Upcoming events:

Olmsted Plein Air Invitational

Plein Air Easton

Wayne Plein Air Festival

Bath County Plein Air Festival

Harford Plein Air: as the Awards Judge


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