Category Archives: Plein Air

Your Plein Air Roots

Thomas McGlynne  Blossoms  1878 – 1966  20 x 24 inches  Medium: Oil on board   Available at Karges Fine Art.

“I aspire to become an inhabitant, one who knows and honors the land…I follow various and sometimes crooked paths, yet I am always driven by a single desire, that of learning to be at home.” ~ Scott Russell Sanders

What are your plein air “roots?”

We dug in the dirt. Light was miraculous. During my California youth, down on hands and knees to touch, smell and fondle beach flowers tendrils, pungent and squishy succulents, inhaling the scent of tiny cliff side scrub, peeling puzzle-shaped eucalyptus bark, running my fingers along those arrow-like leaves was a daily ritual. Every canyon trail was fair game.

There’s something from every art movement to love, but before I even knew what it was, plein air painting was in my blood.

Sullivan Canyon Trail

Childhood years were a nirvana of clamoring, swimming and hiking in and around the Santa Monica-Pacific Palisades-Malibu landscapes. We lived on a Sullivan Canyon hillside, on Old Ranch Road, in a Cliff May home. At the foot of our long, winding driveway was a large open field, and we called it… “the Field.” Cross the Field and you found yourself on Sullivan Canyon Road. Open and dusty, we kids played, and people rode horses, picnicked, threw frisbees. Now the Field is an established riding arena, and its scrubby oak tree terrain seems shrunken.

But the Field was where I first saw plein air painters at work.

I was 10, my brother six when, one morning, we walked down to the Field. A group of plein air painters had gathered under the eucalyptus. Their clothes, easels, hats…all were “foreign” to us, figures materialized from another era. My brother and I made our way over to the group.

One artist focused on a view oriented toward our house. Holding hands, we watched as the artist suddenly painted us–I with my white blonde hair and John a carrot-topped red-head–into the scene. Two tiny children dwarfed by ancient oaks, eucalyptus, wading in wildflowers, California’s hills sweeping skyward behind us. Nature is the master, we are only suggested.

Dennis M. Doheny “Late Light Poppies, Oil on Linen, 24 x 30”

I’m still in contact with California grade school friends. One of my classmates is the great California landscape Impressionist Dennis M. Doheny. His paintings are among the most awarded and sought after works by a living California plein air painter. He’s represented by another classmate, Karges Fine Art’s Whitney Ganz.

Jim Wodark, “Night Spirit,” Oil on Linen, 12 x 12″

I discovered Jim Wodark’s work at last summer’s Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters “Plein Air for the Park” event. The paint-out is back this summer, a fine venue for meeting and cultivating your plein air palette. So many artists, so many painting styles. Wodark, I think, is a master. His works emit Western dry heat and that silver, scented light permeats the sage.

Lamya Deeb, also new to “Plein Air for the Park” last summer, caught many art lovers’ attention. A quiet presence, she lives and works near Boulder, Colorado. Her paintings are soft whispering masses of color, form and light. Floating, sometimes bordering on the abstract, her paintings represent a departure from more representative plein air styles.

Lamya Deeb, Billowing, Oil on Panel, 8 x 10″   “My aim is to convey the unique essence and beauty of a particular moment and place, and to share the feeling of that experience with the viewer,” says Deeb.

Whenever a plein air work feels so rich that I can “smell” the landscape, I’m a goner.

Plein Air season approaches! It’s my favorite time of year here in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and the Greater Yellowstone region. Artists are out painting everywhere, offering new work fresh from a session on Antelope Flats, Jenny Lake, Mormon Row, Oxbow, the Elk Refuge, the Teton Village area, Moose, Moran Junction, Spring Gulch Road and Hardeman Ranch .

This summer’s major plein air events in the Jackson Hole/Grand Teton National Park/Greater Yellowstone/Teton Valley, Idaho include: Plein Air for the Park, the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Plein Air Fest (which includes artists creating works other than plein air paintings), Artists in the Environment, Driggs Plein Air, the Teton Plein Air Painters, and during the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, artists spread out for the “Quick Draw,” a festival favorite!

The Jackson Hole Art Blog is full of plein air stories! Just enter the words “plein air” in the search box to find dozens of stories on Jackson Hole artists and their work! See you out there!

Travis Walker, “Niko.”

Painting to Listen; John Potter’s Dream

John Potter “Walking Tall in the Beartooths,” Oil 7×10″

“Painting for me is a form of communication with our Creator, and of gratitude as well; for the life and beauty brought forth on this Earth, especially in our remaining wild places. Because of this, I feel a sense of responsibility for the privilege of painting, for the gift of the craft. Many painters are out there trying to be heard – I paint to listen.” – John Potter

Stay tuned, please, for this important message.

Plein air painter John Potter doesn’t reside in Jackson Holehe’s a Montana man and an Ojibwe. But his presence here is strong. He has many deep friendships, and though he doesn’t like to be the center of attention, his clear spirit, gorgeous paintings, humor, consideration, and deep connection to Nature often make him so. He dedicates his life to celebrating the land and what it provides.

Unfortunately, all too often Nature’s voice falls on deaf ears, even when calling out to us with all its majestic power. We urgently need to practice listening. We need to hear those who Nature has chosen to pass on its messages, and messages often appear as dreams.

Recently, Potter had an apocolyptic dream; a nightmare. He’s graciously given permission to share it with you. Potter’s dream is Mother Earth (She is simply the mother; there is nothing separate from her. All things come from her, return to her, and are her.- Encyclopedia Britannica) calling us to bear witness.

Miigwetch, John.

John Potter, “Walking Among Giants.” Oil 14×48″

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Fresh Lots at J.H. Art Auction; A Kansas Art Tale

Edgar Payne, Navajo Scouting Party, 24×38″ Oil. Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000

Fresh to the art market: no matter how important an artist’s work, if passed around the auction circuit too often, its value tarnishes. Flip city. That’s why the 2017 Jackson Hole Art Auction   elation over works new to the market is understandable: six oils by American illustrator W.H.D. Koerner. The works come straight from a private collection “with direct descent from the artist.”

W.H.D. Koerner (1878–1938) Citizens of the Law (1931) oil on canvas, 30 x 36″  Estimate: $75,000–$125,000

Koerner works include “Citizens of the Law,” shown above, and “New Horizons,” a “classic pioneer scene.” Both works estimate at $75,000 – $125,000. Koerner’s “Fly Fishing,” “The Bullring,” “The Price of the Old Northwest,” and “Indian Territory Demand for Tribute” round out the Koerner lots. Together these works comprise a vivid and compelling profile of the characters, times, challenges and passions of the Old West.

Edgar Payne, Carl Rungius, Robert Bateman, Tucker Smith; you’ll find works by all these iconic Western artists on the Jackson Hole Art Auction website.   No matter where they set up their easels, countless contemporary artists list the great Edgar Payne as a significant influence in their own work. 

The Jackson Hole Art Auction caps Jackson’s annual Fall Arts Festival, and is a co-production of the Gerald Peters and Trailside Galleries. A phenomenal Western Art market success, this will be the auction’s 11th year offering the finest works by living and deceased masters. The auction, now a destination in itself, continues to invite fine art consignments. Once again, the auction takes place over the course of two consecutive days: September 15th and 16th, 2017, at the Center for the Arts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. For information, contact Auction Coordinator Madison Webb, via Tel: 866-549-9278 | Fax: 307-732-1600 or at www.jacksonholeartauction.com.  

Now, a brief “return from vacation” note. If you read the New York Times  Arts Section, you may have seen March 25th’s article “Arts Without Funding? It Can Be Done, Kansas Says.” 

Courtesy Hays Arts Council

Journalist Mitch Smith’s  article tells the story of Kansas’ Hays Arts Council. Its director, Brenda Meder, cuts corners wherever possible in order to save money and funnel cash into the arts. She scrubs the toilets, she makes the reception appetizers, she’s increased membership and organizes quarterly art walks “in the brick-paved downtown, where storefronts transform into makeshift galleries that draw hundreds of spectators from Hays and beyond.”

In Hays, support comes from Democrats and Republicans. It is, says one politically involved citizen, “part of our DNA here. And that’s hard to replicate in other communities.”

This is a story about a Midwest arts community making concessions, but their arts scene remains strong. It’s a great profile. And, man, look at this art! It’s fantastic! Read the story here.

Courtesy Hays Arts Council

Sketching With Bill Sawczuk; Crushing on Rob Kingwill

By Bill Sawczuk

“I don’t need a sketch to paint.”  
 
“Sketching is too time consuming.” 
 
“I don’t like pencil work.” 
 
And the real reason:
“I don’t wish to spend the time practicing to sketch.”  

 

These are reasons artists chafe against sketching, as cited by plein air painter Bill Sawczuk. In this post, I’m letting Bill do the talking. A consummate professional, he’s always thinking of composition, technique and hard work. In his mind, the definition of sketching–and its importance in the artistic process–is largely misunderstood.

Sawczuk says that the resistance to pencil work stems from the fact that many artists tend to take a pencil sketch too far.

“They labor at technique and finish. The feeling of spontaneity and freshness is gone, and an overworked sketch is the result,” explains Sawczuk. “Look at the sketches that Sorolla did of people sitting in restaurants in New York and Chicago. They were very quickly done, but they capture the attitude and character of those people.”

Bill Sawczuk is quick on the oil sketch draw. No evidence of coffee stains!

As Sawczuk is predominantly a plein air oil painter, he often uses oil as a sketching medium to do a quick study on 8-weight museum quality paper board.

“The big advantage of this material is its ability to soak in the oil paint, which allows you to keep painting on a relatively dry surface. I completed this oil sketch (above) in one hour, and it could have been quicker if I hadn’t dipped my brush in my coffee,” says the artist.

Bill Sawczuk, Conte Figure Sketch

Many world-renowned artists executed highly descriptive yet simple renderings of buildings around the globe using a pencil, Sawczuk tells us. A pencil, he says, is a handy tool, easily obtained, easily carried, and quick to use with plenty of practice.

Photo of Bill Sawczuk by Tammy Christel

“Carry a nice soft pencil and sketch pad with you…no eraser! Using an eraser might cause you to over-correct, negating the time-saving benefits of a quick sketch. Your subject might be anything, but your purpose is learning. If you are drawing from a live model, take advantage of your chance to quick sketch, and see how quickly you improve.”

Sawczuk’s ability to capture the heart of Jackson Hole’s Western culture and wildlife is unmatched. His dynamic portrait of a bull moose sold like lightning at the Art Association’s recent “Whodunnit” fundraiser sale. The painting’s power and surety, its “moose essence,” made it jump off the wall. Sawczuk was also recently featured in the prestigious Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine in that publication’s article on figure drawing, “Go Figure.”

A member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters group, Bill Sawczuk is also represented at Trio Fine Art in Jackson Hole. You know he’ll be out and painting up a storm this summer!  www.triofineart.com

Rob Kingwill for Nike

I’m old. And that’s why, when the coolest of the cool snowboarding – art crowd talk to me, it’s HUGE! The other evening I ran into Rob Kingwill at a friend’s birthday party, and I have to say about this young man: he ALWAYS smiles and says hello, he’s always positive, he’s “clear,” and he’s good to his parents.

We talked for a while. Really, Rob talked and I listened, because I’m not close to his arts group here. He creates for the joy of it; he’s not weighted with angst, but he’s also, I think, hungry and ready for more exposure in the Jackson Hole art scene. For his genre to be taken “seriously.”
To be considered….fine art?  Take a look!

AVALON7 SNOWBOARDING AND FLYFISHING FACEMASKS

It’s certainly sought after. It’s as disciplined as any other form of art. Understand the snowboard culture and you understand the art.  I think a few more pop-up shows for Kingwill and his colleagues are in order, don’t you? There are some pretty sweet sponsors we could hit up!  Check out his company on Facebook:  AVALON7.

Thanks for the talk, Rob. I learned a lot. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rob-kingwill-ab8487b/

 

Hats Off! It’s “Whodunnit” Number 10!

I know Whodunnit!

What’s so special and enduring about the Art Association’s annual “Whodunnit?” fundraiser? One participating artist, Borbay, immediately piped up with his take on the exhibition:

“Despite being a full-time artist in Manhattan for seven years, I never established a meaningful relationship with an art organization. That changed completely when I moved to Victor, connected with Shari Brownfield, Todd Hanna, Chas Marsh, Mark Nowlin and The Art Association of Jackson Hole. They hosted my first show out West in the Summer of 2016, and since, I’ve witnessed the incredible impact they have made on our community. When the wonderful Jill Callahan mentioned the Whodunnit show, I was happy to contribute. I’m excited to see who ends up with my piece, and, from what I’ve heard, it’s one helluva party!”

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