By Melinda Baird, email@example.com
The bitter cold can’t keep local artist Carlye Crisler from doing what she loves. The plein air artist, meaning painter of outdoor scenes, has outwitted Michigan winters by simply propping her canvas on the steering wheel of her heated car. It’s from this portable studio, replaced by a motorized chartreuse bike in summer, Crisler has produced work that has caught the attention of both locals and non-locals alike.
Her work is currently displayed at Chelsea Underground Art Gallery, and has been featured on the cover of the Ann Arbor Observer as well as recognized by PleinAir magazine. In fact, Crisler this week is among a select group of artists painting in Cuba for later publication in the magazine.
Crisler’s paintings infuse real life, detailed scenes – such as Chelsea’s downtown traffic congestion while railroad tracks underwent construction last summer – with color and charm.
“I always paint from life, and I like to paint industrial-looking scenes and include everything: barrels, bricks, trash, yellow caution tape – whatever is actually there,” Crisler said. She’s particularly drawn to the modern, but also old-fashioned, character of Chelsea and Dexter.
A local granary, Dexter’s viaduct beside A&W, and Chelsea’s Clocktower from the point of view of the train depot have also been subjects of her paintings.
Chelsea Underground Art Gallery owner Alison Mackie refers to Crisler as a serious and dedicated plein air painter.
“Many artists will omit certain features or even add things that are not there in order to enhance a composition. Not Carlye. She paints exactly what she sees in front of her right down to the last detail,” Mackie said.
Chelsea Historical Society President Cary Church said he’s planning to display Crisler’s work in the Chelsea Historical Museum. He noted how Crisler expertly draws out features of Chelsea’s historical buildings in a colorful, impressionistic way.
Crisler herself said her paintings are “a little over-saturated,” as she is not interested in creating a painting to look like a photo.
The artist has recently moved from Ann Arbor to the Dexter/Chelsea area and is enjoying the up-close inspiration.
To enjoy Crisler’s paintings, visit Chelsea Underground at 105 South Main Street in downtown Chelsea.