Aerial landscape art includes paintings and other visual arts that depict or evoke the appearance of a landscape as it might be viewed by a bird or from an aircraft. This kind of art hardly existed before the twentieth century; its modern manifestation coincided with the development of human air transport, which allowed artists to take in and draw inspiration from such sights. Prior to this, the earliest depictions of aerial views were conjectured maps and map-like art works, pieces that were drawn from the imagination.
Maine artist Kathleen Galligan’s work encompasses both traditions. Working primarily with oil paints and pastels, she conjures landscapes that are imaginary, though grounded in reality. Galligan says that she is seeking to gain a broader perspective of our earth. She explains that she likes to contemplate fictional shorelines and unknown estuaries using light and color to explore the magic and mysteries of the land. “Creating places of interest that are both familiar and unfamiliar simultaneously might invite the viewer to begin their own exploration of uncharted shores,” Galligan said.
Spring Migration shows the aerial view of a coastline. The fingers of landscape are not specific; it could be an ocean coastline or the shoreline of a fresh water lake. There are indications of farmland, of cliffs, and forest. What is important here is not the delineation of an actual geographic area, but rather an indication of atmosphere. The clouds are lightly rendered, softly obscuring the horizon line, enhancing perspective and subtly revealing the terrain. Galligan uses pastels masterfully to impart the feeling of muted light. Moisture and mist seem to pass through the clouds and visually unify land, sky, and water. When looking at Spring Migration it is easy to imagine the seasonal transition of birds as they move on toward their summer breeding grounds.
Kathleen Galligan lives on the coast of Maine. She is represented by Greenhut Gallery in Portland and Littlefield Gallery in Winter Harbor, and George Marshall Store Gallery in York. She has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally. She can be reached through her website.