Staying true: New work by Allen Whiting

This new painting, "Oystering," by Allen Whiting, sold to an Island summer resident, captures the essential stillness of the scene. Flowers for the opening are arranged by Susan Silva and Lynne Whiting. — File photo by Susan Safford

If there was a mantle of Favorite Son to bestow on an Island artist, it would most likely be given to painter Allen Whiting. A farmer still — as were close to a dozen generations of his Island family before him — he is the translator of the feel, climate, sound, and aroma of the earth into color and image. His reverent seascapes and landscapes of West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Menemsha express the confidence and authenticity of someone who works the land.

Mr. Whiting’s gallery,The Davis House Gallery at 985 State Road in West Tisbury, is the home he shares with his wife Lynne. The annual July openings they host at the gallery have become crowd-control occasions, where the see-and-be-seen come to admire Mr. Whiting’s latest work, sample the generous buffet offerings, and celebrate the summer.

But essentially, it is about the art. As a plein air painter, Mr. Whiting, an Impressionist, balances familiar scenes with invention and creative expression, using his informed instinct for manipulating layered colors and design to invent new solutions — always fresh, affecting, and somehow, different.

He points to a landscape: “I’ve painted that group of trees 50 times,” he says. “Simple forms moving from left to right. I went out there and it was absolutely stunning.”

While nature is his most frequent subject, he also paints figures and portraits. While oil is his predominant media, he also works in watercolors. And while the Island is his inspiration, another island, Bequia in the Grenadines, where he and Ms. Whiting have spent significant time, also provides a setting for his work.

It’s being displayed at The Davis House Gallery until early August, when he will rearrange the gallery, adding new pieces. “I’m like a racehorse,” he smiles and says, “turning my attention to August, stretching canvases, gathering my creative juices.”

Davis House Gallery is always open by appointment, with regular hours on Thursdays, 1 to 9 pm, and Fridays through Sundays, 1 to 6 pm. 508-693-4691.