Whether it’s the majestic canyons of New Mexico or the quiet harbors of Cape Cod, painter and Falmouth resident Herb Edwards captures the beauty of his surroundings. Despite the distinct differences in geography, the dramatic light and natural beauty in both regions has inspired Edwards for decades.
Born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, Edwards grew up in a home where his father, who had a great appreciation for the arts, encouraged his son’s creativity. He found early inspiration at home, where impressionist reproductions hung on the wall and Stevan Dohanos, a famed Saturday Evening Post illustrator and friend of his parents, was often a guest.
Edwards’s childhood inspirations led him to the University of New Mexico where he studied painting, photography, and graphic design under the tutelage of Taos art colony members. Once he had received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1963, he worked in commercial graphic design before going on to receive his Master of Fine Arts in painting and photography from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. The academic world consumed Edwards for the next 20 years of his life until he retired from a professorship at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey to devote himself to his art. “I wanted to try my hand at working with galleries and getting involved in the art field full-time,” says Edwards.
While many painters devote themselves to a single medium, Edwards finds merit in both oil and acrylic. “Oils are a traditional medium with their own qualities. You can build them up and work them—they’re very malleable—while acrylic is a fast-drying artificial material,” explains Edwards. “I use them in very different ways. I paint spontaneously in one sitting with acrylics and build up the oils over time.” His diverse paintings in both mediums have a lightness of touch and simplicity of line reflecting the natural, uncluttered beauty of New England and America’s far west. From impressionistic pieces like Sunny Afternoon, to more austere, Hopper-like works with bare renderings of line and color such as Inner Harbor, Edwards’s paintings reflect the simple beauty and symmetry of natural surroundings that have always been his source of inspiration.
Edwards recognizes that he is in a league among many talented, yet diverse painters in New Mexico and Cape Cod. As he sees it, “The difference between artists is how they see the subject and how they apply the paint, and within that are a million subtleties.” His own subtleties are the result of a clear artistic vision.