Ben currently maintains two studios, the first in his Kent, Ohio, home, the other in the Basshams’s newly discovered second “home,” Taos, New Mexico. From each of these workplaces Ben travels extensively to seek his subject matter in two quite different kinds of outdoor environments: the coastlines, hardwood forests, and scenic lakes of the Northeast on the one hand, and the mountains and desert country of the American Southwest on the other.
Ben takes photographs and makes pencil sketches and plein air oil studies that he uses in his studios as the basis for his larger oil paintings. In Kent he works on canvases that depict such traditional American subjects as the rocky Maine coast, Gloucester harbor, New England street scenes, as well as subjects taken from closer to home. Lately, for example, he has turned his eye toward the picturesque old buildings and bridges of Ohio river towns.
In his Taos studio, housed in a traditional adobe dwelling and located just west of dramatic Taos Mountain, Ben develops his paintings of high desert country subjects, including the mission churches of the Rio Grande valley. Inspired by the art of Walter Ufer, Oscar Berninghaus, and other painters of the Taos Society of Artists that flourished in the early twentieth century, Ben’s paintings are full of the glowing light and vivid colors of this special landscape. His comprehensive knowledge of American art, especially American realism, acquired during his thirty-year career as a professor of American art history, is a resource he calls on frequently in the production of his own art.
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