ERIC HOLZMAN’S landscape paintings transport me to places where I have not allowed myself to go. Those are the places I have often dreamed of, silent and secluded with no evidence of human existence.

For over thirty years he has painted in quiet places with the wind in the trees, water moving over rocks and birds busy with their songs. He has been able to find these secret places because he has spent a lifetime looking for them. Eric’s experiences in the light and air have helped to shape the essence of his life and his art.

Ten years ago I bought myself a French easel. I have yet to strap it on my back and wander into the countryside in search of a motif. Maybe it’s the noise that stops me. After a lifetime in the city it tends to accumulate, eventually burdening the mind and filling it with doubt. Doubt in one’s hand can be a good thing; a trembling brush can work miracles. But to doubt that there are places where you can hear only your breath and your heartbeat is reason enough to stay in the studio.

On the spot, Eric is able to connect to the pulse of the place he has chosen—when this happens an exchange takes place between the painter and the motif. He paints inside out, and outside in, and the results are not just pictures of trees, but nature as a living, breathing entity. The intimacy of these paintings is a revelation. There is a touching going on here, a caressing of form to release light. Eric somehow has the ability to carry the essence of the places he has been visiting, back to his studio, transforming studies into large-scale works.

Large Tree at Crestwood (cat no. 15) has an extraordinary combination of delicate mark making working to make an image of monumental proportion and perfect scale. The forms swell up, revolving toward the top of the painting and I become aware of time at work in nature. I feel a certain anticipation, a foreboding, something powerful is slowly beginning to unfold.

As I look at the painting In The Rushes (cat no. 12), I see a young woman. She sits by a stream in a composition reminiscent of certain Renaissance pastorals. The woman is naked and the dominant color is white. The white functions here as light passing through forms and emanating from them. I see the woman not as flesh, but as spirit. She is on a journey and has stopped for a while, by a stream, to drink and bathe before moving on.

I see this painting as a prayer, filled with hope and love. She will move on, into the light, on a long and wondrous journey toward redemption and rebirth. The water in the stream will also continue to flow and there will be other visitors as Eric continues painting the light as only he can. There is no doubt in my mind.

Joe Santore