A collection of landscapes by artist Cindy House, which are so meticulously detailed that they often are mistaken for photographs, are now on display at Mass Audubon Center for Visual Arts in Canton.

A collection of landscapes by artist Cindy House, which are so meticulously detailed that they often are mistaken for photographs, are now on display at Mass Audubon Center for Visual Arts in Canton. 


 “Landscapes Discovered,” composed of works done in pastel crayons, depict a wide variety of scenes that stirred visitors during a “Meet the Artist” reception Sunday. 


“There’s a lot of feeling and motion in these paintings,” said Ken Cohen of Brockton.


 “I had to go back to my car to get my reading glasses because they’re so perfectly detailed,” said Susan DeVito, who traveled from Elliot, Maine, to see the exhibit.


 Some of the favorite scenes included a full moon against an indigo sky on Martha’s Vineyard, a peregrine falcon flying against the grey ocean on Green Island, Maine, and a scene of wild turkeys crossing a snowy field in Sutton, N.H.


“It feels like you’re right there watching them (the turkeys),” said Elba Proctor of Milton. “It’s just gorgeous.”


House, who studied marine biology at the University of Maine and now lives in New Hampshire, said she is honored to exhibit at the gallery. A former bird book illustrator, she has been working in pastels for almost two decades, and has completed about 275 scenes.


Almost all of her works include birds, and she said that she often is stirred to “paint” (pastel works are considered paintings) a particular scene after spotting birds.


Her collection is one of just three exhibits the center will show this year. Amy Montague, director of the Mass Audubon Center, said she was impressed with House because she is an internationally acclaimed artist whose background adds unusual depth to her works.


“I think an intimate knowledge of landscapes comes through,” Montague said. “It’s not just the beauty or technical expertise, but the depth of understanding of the natural processes as well as life she is portraying.”


Montague chose 35 paintings for the exhibit; some are owned by House and some come from private collections.


Each painting includes a comment from House about details of the scene. House said in all cases, she chose to photograph the scene first, using her camera frame to compose the picture.


Some of the scenes took years to materialize, including one entitled “Serenity 2000,” in which she depicts a loon and duck on a pond filled with water lilies. House said she revisited the site numerous times, but it took three years to complete the painting.


“The complexity of the water and the vegetation was intimidating,” she said.


Another scene sprang from a window-side seat.


“I was sitting in the studio having tea, and I looked up to see a parade of turkeys heading over the field to their evening roost, and I knew I had to do a painting of them,” she wrote.


The exhibit also includes a digital slide show detailing the process of creating a pastel painting. House said the technique has been popular since the 1990s.


“I love the immediacy of it, of being able to pick it up and put it on paper. There’s no mixing, no mess, the colors are wonderful, and you can do a lot with it,” she said.


The gallery, on Washington Street in Canton, is open every day except for Monday, 1 to 5 p.m., and is free of charge for members, $4 for adults, and $3 for children and seniors. House’s exhibit will run until Sept. 13.


Some examples of House’s works can be viewed on her Web site at http://www.cindyhouse.com.


For information about the display, visit Canton’s Mass Audubon web site at http://www.massaudubon.org/.


Candace Hall can be reached at cahall@cnc.com


Canton Journal