Lanny McDowell Art
Paintings and Photography

"Creating beauty is a life beautifully spent".


About Lanny

I grew up in Kent, CT, was in college in the late 60’s (art history major) and moved to Martha's Vineyard full-time in 1970. I lived on Tisbury Great Pond starting in 1972, then in beautiful downtown West Tisbury for fourteen years and now my home is near the head of Lake Tashmoo.

There is a huge volume of precedent artistic talent in my family, including my mom’s great sculpture and my dad’s designs for both traditional colonial and innovative modern homes; and there are the fine oil on canvas landscapes of Nelson Augustus Moore (1824-1902) and his son Edwin (1858-1928).

As to my paintings, I cannot say for sure why I have painted in such a variety of styles over the years.  It's fun, I suppose.  I can speculate, however, that after many years in carpentry, where considerable repetition is a given, I am not about to settle into stylistic confines when the creative possibilities are so wide open.

People can expect that my art will have surprises for them.  And I endeavor to keep the attitude cup always way more than half full.  My experiences as a student of art and as a painter of paintings also contribute directly to the composition, the color play and the celebration of abstract components in my avian art, my photographic infatuation with birds.

A couple of years ago I  placed some of my framed prints in the Featherstone Center for the Arts “This I Believe” show where the theme was to have artists submit work that reflected their beliefs along with a brief relevant statement.  This was my statement:

"My photographs of birds capture moments.  Much of the time birds are on the move, doing what birds do to survive, to get where they need to be, to raise the next generation.  The images I have chosen to print from the thousands of digital images I keep on file may show birds in motion, but the viewer sees them as they are rarely seen in person, in detail that is usually lost in the blur of flight or the fading of distance.

I believe in paying attention to the marvels that surround us.  My art, paintings and avian photographs, has been about expressing my awe and respect for powerful natural cycles:  in my paintings, the patterns of wind and water that drive waves to our shores; in my photographs, it’s the wondrous life cycles of the birds that share the planet with us and inspire us.

I believe in the interconnectedness of all things on earth.  The classic story of the canary in a coal mine has elaborated into a recognition that wildlife populations are indicators of the health of the Earth.

Nature is my belief.  It is my religion, my faith, my truth.  I believe the lessons that instruct me, the lessons that give my contributions value, that guide how I treat the world around me, are generated in the context of being outdoors and watching and feeling what is happening.  Those highs temper the lows in my life.  That knowledge balances the ignorance in my life.  That exuberance and vitality overpower the resentments in my life

I choose to share what I observe and feel by carefully selecting images that reflect themes essential to my world view and that will resonate with both the artistic and the spiritual sense of the viewer."


Lanny McDowell




I am resistant to reliance on an "artist's statement" to explain to the viewer what to think about or what feeling I am interpreting.   I would rather enjoy people's unprompted responses to one of my pieces, without any initial prompt from me.  It's the paintings that should serve as the launch of a dialog, a dialog that easily takes place without the artist first justifying or explaining.

Notwithstanding this disclaimer, and even though I may be exploring what I can do with patterns of squares withing squares in my current work, the following sentiments remain valid:

My wave series paintings are a collection of portraits of ocean waves, graphic enough that not much explanation is required at level one.  Behind the representation, though, is this philosophical intent:  the relentless power of sea-born waves, meeting the shore at the end of a rhythm sequence which began with wind over water, which began with air rushing from high pressure to low pressure, swirling within a charged and restless atmosphere, this gives me hope that the innate lust for life and diversity prevalent in Nature will persevere despite the contemporary threats we, the hominids, seem to pose on almost every front, from overgrazing the slopes of Kilimanjaro to the bleak and polluting industrial wastelands of almost any country you can name, to the decimation of fish and mammal stocks in our oceans, to the toxic stuff we wash down the kitchen sink.  I hope the life-sustaining energies of our planet will transcend the blight of our modern economic machine, that the seas and the air and earth, the core and dermis of our globe, can handle our insults and abrasions as she has survived over time other challenges to her sense of balance and well-being.  I am ever skeptical, but rarely cynical.

I hope I am not too naive in trusting that the hubris which prompts our disrespect for the planet is just another "off" day in the profusion of life on Earth, which nurtures the most extraordinary inventions we can imagine, and beyond imagining.  Let us not abuse the bounty of Nature, or betray her legacies. May the  arrogance we express be only a temporary reflection of our miscalculations and inattention, not an irreversible theme for the planet ... and for us.

Waves give us awe, respect and this hope.