Albert Handell: The Glow of Light

NOAPS HandellRock Ledge by Albert Handell Oil 16x20 $8500

“Rock Ledge”, 16×20, Oil, Private Collection.  Winner of Best Landscape Award in the 2017 NOAPS Spring Online International.

What makes a Master Artist?  If one is to look at Albert Handell’s work, and study it well, we would begin to understand the vast repertoire of knowledge and skill that is required.  When we look at “Rock Ledge”, we can see the perfect combination of skill, emotion, and thoughtful intention.  As the composition leads us in from the upper left we are led around the painting with lines and edges.  The lines vary in thickness and intensity, and bring us in a spiral that takes us to the focal area.  We immediately see the effect of light and shadow, and as we look into the shadow colors we see the interplay of warm and cool, bright and neutral. Handell has pushed the color notes all through the painting to enhance his composition, bringing the surface of the rocks forward and back informing the viewer of depth.  He has used texture to enhance the rough surface of the rocks, and varied the shapes to create a sense of movement.  The closer we look at this work, the more we see that what it takes to be a Master is to know all methods for creating great art, and employ them in a cohesive, interesting and impressive manner.  Easier said than done.

NOAPS Handell pastel painted en plein air for Rock Ledge oil 14xx18   Pastel painted en plein air for “Rock Ledge”, 14×18

For the painting “Rock Ledge”, Mr. Handell was out painting en plein air.  Albert states: “I was on location with my pastels, and my camera, it was a sunny/cloudy day, when the cloud blocked the sun the subject matter was ordinary, when the clouds lifted and the sun shined on the subject, the whites of the calcium was breathtaking.”

Albert Handell has been painting for over 40 years, and is a distinguished artist who has garnered many awards and accolades, and is widely collected.  He is also a celebrated teacher, giving workshops across the country.  Today, Mr. Handell works en plein air in pastel, using his pastels directly, with a watercolor underpainting, or by applying the pastel and washing with alcohol to create an underpainting.  He works with oils in the studio, and finds that separating the mediums helps to keep him fresh.

NOAPS Handell EVENING BREEZE by Albert Handell pastel 18x16   “Evening Breeze” 18×16, Pastel, Private Collection

Albert enjoys painting en plein air, and uses the plein air pastel paintings and carefully selected photos to create his oil paintings in the studio.  He limits photos taken en plein air, and does so only to capture fleeting light, or additional scenes he would like to paint in the studio.

His process for oil painting consists of an underpainting using Gamsol, and once this is established he works from his center of interest outward. As he works toward finishing, he uses contrasting thickness and varied application techniques to enhance the final piece.  His studio paintings range in size from 16×20 up to 48×60 inches.

NOAPS Handell ONE JUNE MORNING by Albert Handell pastel 14x18   “One June Morning” 14×18, Pastel.  Private Collection. 

“‘One June Morning’ was painted on location in Santa Fe.  The subject was back-lit with strong contrasts of darks and lights.  With this type of lighting one must always squint, simplify things and not see too many details in the shadows. Let the edges drift and be soft or even ‘lost’ and they will contrast to the sharp edges of the sunlit areas.  Lost and found edges are very important in a painting in order to give a sense of space and a sense of looseness to the painting.  If the background has competing sharp edges with the foreground edges there will be an overall tightness to the painting, and  this can be corrected very easily by simply softening certain edges.”

NOAPS HandellA MOUNTIAIN STREAM by Albert Handell oil 40x30 $26,500   “Mountain Stream”, 40×30, Oil, Private Collection

Albert has much to share with his students.  He encourages painters to paint every day if possible.  “If you are stuck and you might be, own up to it.  You might need a workshop, to get you out of your environment.  Choose an artist who’s work you like.  Try a few workshops, when you find the workshop instructor who was best for you, stop experimenting and stay with that artist as long as you have to.”

Mr. Handell is represented by Ventana Art  Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.  To view more of Albert’s work and learn about his workshops, visit

To view the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society 2017 Spring Online International, visit, or see the work on Facebook and Instagram (Natoilandacrylicsociety).






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