York County artist Robert Buchanan doesn't have to look far for inspiration.

"We're right above where the Codorus meets the Susquehanna," he says of the studio he shares with his wife, Barbara, on the eastern edge of York County near Mount Wolf. "It's very quiet here. We see eagles, and I've seen a great horned owl, so that's fun."

The Buchanans, along with Robert's former student Craig Andrews, have brought their works in oils, watercolors and pastels together for an exhibit titled "Buchanan, Andrews, Buchanan: Three-Person Show" at the Garth Gallery in Columbia. In addition to his personal work, Buchanan has taught illustration and other classes for three decades at the Art Institute of York, which recently named a studio classroom in his honor.

"We each have about 15 pieces" in the show, Robert Buchanan says. The paintings are thematically linked to the local landscape, the Susquehanna River and other area watercourses in all their moods.

"I'm trying to make people see things a little bit differently than they normally would," he says, describing the artistic role as that of an interpreter rather than a stenographer. "Nature's constantly changing ... so I do take liberties."

Elements: He works both indoors and out to fully realize the "luminosity and tonality" of a scene, for which he says "the type of mood and the day is important."

"I get the general concept outside with the sketches ... and do the major painting indoors," he says. "I don't think it matters where you are as long as you capture the essence of the beauty of nature."


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For Buchanan, that essence is often found in the play of light and shadow.

"I equate my work with music -- to have real light, delicate areas and real bold, powerful areas," he says. The interplay between a crescendo of deep colors and a pianissimo note of light can be all it takes to draw a viewer into the painting.

"The subtle effects of our images: That's how we speak," Buchanan says.

He and his wife have been "speaking" together for more than 25 years after a chance meeting at the Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show.

Robert Buchanan of East Manchester Township
Artist Robert Buchanan finishes a painting at his East Manchester Township home studio. He and his wife, Barbara, are exhibiting at the Garth Gallery in Columbia, Lancaster County, through Oct. 20. Bill Kalina photo (Bill Kalina photo)

"The arts festival brought us together," he says. "She was three booths down from me, and I helped her hang her art."

And now their art hangs together at the Garth Gallery.

At the gallery

"Buchanan, Andrews, Buchanan: Three-Person Show" is on display through Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Garth Gallery, 22 S. Second St., Columbia, Lancaster County.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information about the show, call (717) 684-0651 or visit garthgallery.net.

For more information about Robert Buchanan, visit www.robertebuchanan.com.

-- Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.