Bri Custer is a plein air painter investigating perception, memory, and color through the New England Landscape. She received her M.Ed. in Secondary Education (2019) and B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in Psychology(2014) from the University of New Hampshire. Her work has been featured by Clover + Bee, Candyfloss, and on the Create! Magazine blog and can be found at Nahcotta in Portsmouth, NH and Sorelle Gallery in Westport, CT. She is currently a full-time artist based in Concord, New Hampshire with her husband, Bryan and hound-lab mix, Vinny.
This work is from Bri's July 2023 "Lowlands" collection. In Bri's own words: "Painting en plein air challenges the limitations of my perception. In the few seconds between looking from the landscape to the canvas, my brain has formed an imperfect short-term memory of that subject, as is true for any artist trying to translate the world without a photographic memory to support them. I use the lapses that occur between observing my subject and marking my canvas as invitations to invent color and space. I relish the opportunity to lay down a wildly bold pink or exaggerate a slant of light to the point of distortion.
I’ve long considered the synonymous relationship between perception and short-term memory in my painting practice, but more recently I’ve been curious about the way episodic, or long-term memory, informs how I choose the landscapes I paint. When I set out, I look for a place that feels familiar and if I manage to find it, a tenderness drives the process. I find that places can hold a kind of charge–an emotional history–like when you return to a place you’ve frequented and as you explore, past experiences in that place unfold from memory. The painting becomes a reaction to both the visual and emotional space of moments past and present."