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Artist Finds Waves of Inspiration in Long Beach

Bill Mensching continues his series of ocean paintings at Edwards beach.

William Mensching works on his latest and largest painting, a 64” x 84” canvas at Edwards Boulevard Beach.
William Mensching works on his latest and largest painting, a 64” x 84” canvas at Edwards Boulevard Beach.

During recent weekends at Edwards Boulevard beach artist William Mensching has worked on the largest painting of his career, the latest in a series that isolate certain features of the ocean that inspire him.

Mensching waited for high surf to brush oil on a 64” x 84” canvas that evokes a large, overhanging wave about to crash. Taking his paintings to greater physical dimensions is the latest goals of Mensching’s long career. “That’s the next thing I want to do, is see how big a canvas I can get on the beach and be successful with it,” he said.

And while more spacious canvases are new terrain for Mensching, the sands of Long Beach are aren’t. The 56-year-old Baldwin native has planted his easels on the city’s beaches since his college days in the 1970’s, when he occasionally painted and sketched there as he studied at the School of Visual Arts. It wasn’t until about 2005, though, that he started to take the beach as steady inspiration, getting hooked on the interaction of its waves, sand and jetties, he said.

Mensching creates mostly along the shore between New York and National boulevards, as well as the Azores, the dunes area in the East End. “I’ve done complete scenes of the sky at sunset and sunrise,” he said about his Long Beach-inspired paintings.

Last Sunday, after spending a typical three to four hours painting on Edwards beach, Mensching said he’ll make one last trek back there before taking his canvas to his studio for some finishing touches. He will add the painting to his series of ocean scenes that he commenced in 2011. His hopes to find a gallery to exhibit this body of work.

“I’ve just been working on these close-ups of the waves and trying to get the whole drama of the ocean,” said Mensching, whose painting of the ocean in Long Beach during Hurricane Irene last year was included in this year’s annual summer exhibit at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington.

His fundamental approach to art is essentially to make a scene what it could or should be, by capturing a variety of ideal conditions. “I’m not painting the exact scene of the ocean, but between the sunlight, the wind, the tide changing and the waves changing, it’s like all these different factors that make the whole scene,” said Mensching, who is director of a mural painting company in Manhattan.

He sometimes enjoys painting at neighboring Lido Beach and Jones Beach, but favors Long Beach in large part because it is a mere 12-minute drive from his home in Rockville Centre. “It’s very accessible, but it’s also a great beach, especially off season,” he explained. “It’s a very comfortable beach to be on.”

Beyond the convenience and comfort that Long Beach affords him, he is drawn back there by one distinguishing feature.  

“The jetties are just kind of a phenomenon,” he said. “They all have different characteristics.”
Michelle Kelly September 26, 2012 at 08:00 AM
Beautiful and inspiring! Plein Air painting in Long Beach:)

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