Scottish, b. 1967
oil on canvas painting, framed, signed Binnie with artist's red seal-form date 10 , dated on verso 2004 and 2010
painting 24 by 33 7/8 in., 61 by 86 cm
artist's frame 27 by 37 in., 68.58 by 93.98 cm
In 2004 Binnie was commissioned by an American print collector who had a passion for the Grand Canyon to develop a large-scale woodblock print of the subject. The collector, who already owned woodblock prints by Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) and Gustave Baumann (1881-1971) depicting the natural wonder, agreed to cover Binnie's expenses to travel to Arizona to visit Grand Canyon Village on the south rim to select a vista and paint en plein air. The original intention of the project was that the patron would purchase both the painting and a small number of the resulting woodblock prints, while the sale of the remainder of the edition would be handled by a print dealer who was brokering the arrangement.
Excited by this proposal, Binnie brought a large a canvas with him and temporarily stretched it on a wood frame using staples, which he later removed in order to roll the canvas in wax paper to prevent the oil from rubbing and carried home to London in a tube with the wood stretchers taped to the outside. On the first day of painting on site, Binnie began with an under-layer in acrylic which he knew would dry quickly. The following day he returned to the same location and continued painting in oil, his preferred medium. While the first day was partly cloudy, the weather on that second day was much more overcast with dramatic storm clouds brewing in the distance, which he was pleased to have the opportunity to capture in hues of dark purples, blues, and greys in the upper quadrant of the composition.
Upon returning to his studio in London, he forwarded photographs of the work in progress to the intermediary, who passed them on to the patron who was disappointed with Binnie's interpretation of the landscape-- in particular, his emphasis on the dark and brooding sky. As a result, the commission was abandoned with the oil painting not quite finished. Four years later, Binnie returned to the composition in 2007 to develop it into one of his largest and most ambitious woodblock prints, which launched Travels with the Master (Meishou To No Tabi), an ongoing landscape series which features locations previously depicted by one of Binnie's favorite print artists, Hiroshi Yoshida. He titled the print Cloud Shadows, Grand Canyon, putting the emphasis on the dark clouds (not the obvious, awe-inspiring location), embracing the very thing that initially derailed the project.
In 2010, Binnie was inspired by preparations for a landmark print and painting exhibition at Scholten Japanese Art (Paul Binnie: Paintings to Prints and Back Again) to finally put the finishing touches on the canvas. It was with a great sense of relief and satisfaction that he was able to come full circle and see the painting hung side-by-side with the woodblock print as a highlight of the exhibition.
(inv. no. C-0540)
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site last updated
June 16, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
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