Bri Custer is a plein air painter investigating perception, memory, and color through the New England Landscape. She received her M.Ed. in Secondary Education (2019) and B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in Psychology(2014) from the University of New Hampshire. Her work has been featured by Clover + Bee, Candyfloss, and on the Create! Magazine blog and can be found at Nahcotta in Portsmouth, NH, Sorelle Gallery in Westport, CT, and The Gallery on Federal in Newburyport, MA. She is currently a full-time artist based in Concord, New Hampshire with her husband, Bryan and hound-lab mix, Vinny.

bri custer, concord, nh

plein air painter

Painting en plein air challenges the limitations of my perception. In the few seconds between looking from the landscape to the canvas, my brain has formed an imperfect short-term memory of that subject, as is true for any artist trying to translate the world without a photographic memory to support them. I use the lapses that occur between observing my subject and marking my canvas as invitations to invent color and space. I relish the opportunity to lay down a wildly bold pink or exaggerate a slant of light to the point of distortion.

I’ve long considered the synonymous relationship between perception and short-term memory in my painting practice, but more recently I’ve been curious about the way episodic, or long-term memory, informs how I choose the landscapes I paint. When I set out, I look for a place that feels familiar and if I manage to find it, a tenderness drives the process. I find that places can hold a kind of charge–an emotional history–like when you return to a place you’ve frequented and as you explore, past experiences in that place unfold from memory. The painting becomes a reaction to both the visual and emotional space of moments past and present.

- bri custer


About Bri Custer