Andrew Moore’s studio, inside his Oak Bluffs home and a paintbrush throw from his gallery, is a natural world that is constantly in flux. “My studio morphs with the painting I’m working on,” Moore says. “It becomes an indoor version of the outdoor subject.”
This day, Moore is working on a painting of a barn swallow flying across a meadow. Surrounding him are flowers, grasses, drawings, photographs … and a partially frozen bird. About the bird, Moore explains, “I’m sort of a depository for birds that hit windows on the island.” To prepare for the painting, Moore and his daughter Hannah staged dozens of photos of the swallow in flight at a nearby meadow. Back in his studio, now an indoor meadow, Moore begins his paintings with pencil drawings and progresses to layers of oil.
Whether the painting centers on the natural wonderland of Hawk and Squirrel or the extremely realistic The Rigger, which depicts Vineyarder Gary Maynard rebuilding the island schooner Alabama, Moore’s work is beautifully intricate, flowing with unselfconscious respect for animals, people, and nature.
A realist painter, Moore is careful to distinguish between his work and photorealism. His deliberately composed work may start with an experience in nature or as an idea, but the painting evolves over many months.
“At its core, realism has an artist making countless choices and detours in a circuitous path,” he says.
That circuitous path has taken Moore to the most beautiful spots on the Vineyard and coastal Maine, and, occasionally more exotic places, such as a rainforest in Brazil. His subjects, he says, are “everything from hard-edged manmade environments to the fluid undersea world of fish.”
Moore’s work has a strong American stamp, reflected in his genes. “I am rooted in New England,” Moore says. Generations of his family lived in Connecticut. His great-great-grandfather, Nelson Augustus Moore, was a Hudson River School painter who traveled to the Vineyard as early as 1894 to paint the Aquinnah Cliffs. Today, Moore lives in Harthaven, an Oak Bluffs community begun by his family in the early 1900s, with his wife, Heather, and three children.
Moore’s New England has no pretensions. “Most of my paintings reflect my experiences exploring the Vineyard and its surrounding waters, but some of my strongest paintings grow from random everyday occurrences,” he says. “Of course, I have the advantage of living in one of the world’s most magical spots.”