Paul Havas, the formidable painter of Skagit Valley landscapes, has a seminal show this month at the Woodside/Braseth Gallery. The new paintings show a calmer, more confident artist, no longer shrouding his scenery in mists and fog but giving them stronger light, cleaner lines and evanescent reflections of sheds and cabins on the ponds and backwaters of the valley floor and coastal estuaries.
Havas graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University in 1962 and earned a Master's from the University of Washington in 1965. He lives in Madrona and paints urban scenes as well: shaded staircases and dappled passageways. But his new landscapes, flecked with birds and distant human figures, show a new focus on light and shadow, form and reflection.
"I actively look for painting sites, for places or subjects that might trigger my interest," Havas says. "Sometimes it seems they find me, the unplanned glimpse through piers of a bridge or the reflections of a window on a black piano. If I see a hint of color from some electric light, I just take off." Still, his most profound inspriation seems to come from minutely observed elements--a cannery, an oyster shed, a barn, a flight of gulls--beneath the great cloudscapes of northwestern Washington. In tender greens and opaque whites, Havas creates an idealized world of stillness and peace.
Woodside/Braseth Gallery, 2101 9th Ave., 206-622-7243, 11 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday.