Tag Archives: Plein Air Painting

A Closer Look at Plein Air

Bill Sawczuk, from "A Closer Look."

Bill Sawczuk, from “A Closer Look.”

Why take “a closer look?” What does it mean, relative to plein air painting, to examine the world more closely?

Summer is the season, and Jackson Hole is the place to find out. The summer brings a multitude of artists into the open, where they mingle with wilderness, wildlife and, this year, a blockbuster number of tourists. Like the good people working for the postal service, neither sleet nor snow nor bears eating easels can keep plein air painters from delivering the plein air “mail.”

Plein air painter and partner at Jackson gallery Trio Fine Art, Bill Sawczuk is set to host his summer solo exhibition “A Closer Look.”  The show, says the artist, will explore the [myriad talents] of an experienced eye. In partnership with a well-weilded paintbrush, an artist’s eye may take very close examination at its surrounding beauty.

Sawczuk’s work has been largely traditional, primarily broad landscapes, directly translated. “A Closer Look” searches out what doesn’t immediately catch the eye. Seemingly static scenes change, and Sawczuk wants to see what’s new.

“Old cabins in Grand Teton National Park are picturesque to be sure, but there is more to be seen and felt. [I have] tried to express the loneliness and melancholy [I] feel when describing these cabins in a painting. It can take very little to say a lot, to explore the material, and to convey [my] feelings to the viewer.” says the artist.

Bill Sawczuk at work.

Bill Sawczuk at work.

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Is This Thing On?

Wendell Field. North of Static. Wood Print.

Wendell Field, North of Static. Wood Print.

It is on! Fancy that.

Hello, and welcome back to the Jackson Hole Art Blog, where, this summer, I’ll be working to keep you updated on the arts scene in and around Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Plein air events will be prominent, particularly in July, when the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters return to Grand Teton National Park to paint for two weeks, interact with wildlife, the visiting public and demonstrate their legendary talents.

Jackson’s new artist community continues to grow despite a raging, excruciating housing shortage. The muse is the message, and extracting yourself from your muse is painful. Jackson arts are exploding, and for the most part have beautified and enhanced the area. Creativity includes murals, installations, public art, and the Western art scene continuing to diversify its genres.

The Greg McHuron Memorial Book Project is complete! Contact the Grand Teton Association to order your copy today!

The Greg McHuron Memorial Book Project is complete! Contact the Grand Teton Association to order your copy today!

There is a “creative conundrum’ in play. To my knowledge the most recent, all-inclusive write-up on issues affecting our artists belongs to Planet Jackson Hole, and you can read it here. I posted a response to the article:

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Art Moves; 2014 J.H. Art Auction; Book Art; Callens at Mountain Trails

In a few months I will be moving back to the east coast. Family calls. The length of time I’ll be away is temporary and open-ended. I’m grateful, more than I can express, for the loving, caring and supportive messages I’ve received from so many of you. I carry you all in my heart. Posts may “spread out” for a while as I manage logistics, and the Blog may change its focus or form ~~~ but it’s not disappearing. We’re joined, and we’ll remain joined!  Okay, I might write a poem if I keep on. It wouldn’t be a good poem, so time to write about what’s happening in Jackson!

Clymer, John, (1907-1989), Buffalo Chase, oil on canvas, 10 x 20 inches

Clymer, John, (1907-1989), Buffalo Chase, oil on canvas, 10 x 20 inches

The Jackson Hole Art Auction is rapidly receiving an inventory of fine masterworks to  be auctioned off Saturday, September 14, 2014.  This John Clymer is remarkable! Something about it quickens my pulse. Important artists already represented in this year’s auction: Oscar Berninghaus, John Clymer, Bob Kuhn, Ken Riley and Richard Schmid. Schmid’s diminutive painting of carnations was the surprise star of last year’s auction, selling many times over its estimate. Kuhn’s “Resting Cat”, a 22 x 42 acrylic on board, is estimated at $250,000-$300,000.

“The painting was the last Prix de West entry the artist completed in his lifetime, and was awarded the Major General and Mrs. Don Pittman Wildlife Award,” notes the auction.

Kuhn, Bob, (1920-2007), Resting Cat, acrylic on board, 22 x 42"

Kuhn, Bob, (1920-2007), Resting Cat, acrylic on board, 22 x 42″

Auction Coordinator Jill Callahan emphasizes that the public is welcome to stop by the auction offices to learn more about this year’s event. As always, the auction is seeking fine art consignments; I expect offerings to be welcomed into the summer season. For a complimentary, confidential evaluation please call 866-549-9278, visit www.jacksonholeartauction.com or stop by the offices in Trailside Galleries at 130 East Broadway, Jackson, WY — or 7330 Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, AZ. www.jacksonholeartauction.com

Book cover art by Jane Lavino

Book cover art by Jane Lavino

“The Straw That Broke” is an “environmental thriller” written by Jackson’s Gregory Zeigler; the same author who brought us his recreated tale of Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charlie.” It’s Steinbeck’s 112th birthday as I write this. The National Museum of Wildlife Art’s own Jane Lavino created the cover art, and it’s awesome! What up, girl?  We need a Lavino exhibition! Promotional copy for Zeigler’s book sums up the plot: “A young scientist and free spirit, Lyn Burke, gets caught up in a battle between ecoterrorists and corrupt public officials over water in the drought-stricken desert Southwest. Lyn’s disappearance causes police officer Susan Brand and private investigator Jake Goddard to rush to her aid. Abduction, deceit, and murder threaten a cataclysm that places the entire region in jeopardy.” 

Wow, I’m thinking “Longmire!” If the book is as good as that TV series, it’s going to have you on the edge of your seat. Congrats to Greg and Jane! Check it out: www.gzeiglerbooks.com

Tammy Callens - Through the Aspen Grove - 36x18" Oil

Tammy Callens – Through the Aspen Grove – 36×18″ Oil

Plein air painter and portraitist Tammy Callens has a show of new works at Mountain Trails Gallery, in Jackson. Callens feels these paintings break new ground for her as an artist. I’ve always been a fan. Her work is romantic, impressionistic, marked by realism and personal. Callens has another quality: she’s humble about her work. I feel her intimate landscapes are some of the most captivating in town.

Callens sparked the idea of  pro-actively inviting children to participate in plein air painting demonstrations. She did this unwittingly, two summers ago during one of our “Artists in the Environment” events in Grand Teton National Park. Callens painted a difficult scene with great skill, and her most ardent admirers were young people visiting the Park, making their own memories by painting the wilderness explored on their summer vacations. It doesn’t get better than that! www.tammycallens.com 

Erin C. O’Connor Paints for Morocco; Walker at Altamira

Erin C. O'Connor - Untitled

Erin C. O’Connor – Untitled

“The mission of the Atlas Cultural Foundation is to help underserved Moroccans, especially women and children, and improve their quality of life through locally determined development projects.” Cloe Erickson, Founder

“The people are living exactly they way they have for hundreds and hundreds of years. Stone houses, sheep, goats, a very marginal existence. They are agricultural, but it’s extremely sparse terrain. You can’t truly realize how lush and beautiful it is here until you visit places like these.” – Jackson Artist Erin C. O’Connor

Even the briefest of visits to the Morocco-based  Atlas Cultural Foundation will take your breath away. People, music, swirling rainbows of cloth, smiling children, the purity of souls, laughter, donkeys loaded with grains making their way up steep mountainsides on paths as wide as piece of thread, stone houses seemingly impossible to build…African light on high cliffs, solitary townspeople under tents, illuminated by candlelight.

By Erin C. O'Connor

By Erin C. O’Connor

“These villages,” says plein air painter Erin O’Connor, “are in the High Atlas Mountains, in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a dirt road that probably should have ended 60 miles before it does. It’s unimaginable. The area was the last place for the French Foreign Legion to access, it is so remote.”

Recently O’Connor and a colleague landed the chance to go to Morocco, visit the Atlas Mountains and spend time in the ancient city of Medina, as part of an Atlas awareness-raising initiative. A Montana patron with a strong interest in the organization’s mission financed the trip. O’Connor’s paintings and works by other artists will be offered for sale on February 6th, at a private event in Bozeman, Montana.

“I’d always wanted to go to Morocco. EVERYTHING there is art: the wrought iron on the windows, the tile work, the architecture, the doors, I wanted to paint it all,” says O’Connor. “This opportunity came up,  andI had to say ‘yes.’ It was serendipitous. The funny thing is, I have always considered myself a plein air landscape painter, but being in Marrakesh, in the oldest part the Medina, 8,ooo years old, it was all small alley ways, souks (marketplaces), so many people in such a small place. I was forced to paint in really tight corners! I had two jobs every day: one was to go out and prove just how much my French sucks and the other was to get lost! You go through humbly.”

O’Connor began her trek in the Medina, where she spent almost a week on her own, painting. One day she found herself wedged up in a small souk corner, people pushing by her in huge throngs, very intense for a solitary outdoor artist.

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22, You View, You! – Art Association Hat Trick

Jennifer Hoffman - Flat Creek Breakdown

Jennifer Hoffman – Flat Creek Breakdown

Bushwhacking through dense underbrush and tangled bunches of new and old-growth forest one afternoon with two of the three Trio Fine Art artists, I finally “got” what determination means when it comes to plain air painting. I’ve loved and been close to plain air for decades, but rarely get a chance to go with painters to protected, coveted painting sites. This day was different, and following the footsteps of Jennifer Hoffman and Bill Sawczuk as they marked a painting spot on protected land can be defined, without hesitation, as adventure.

When bellowing bull elk bear down on you, suggesting you’d be better off moving some yards to the south, you pick up your paint box and move it. Hoffman tells the story of that day much better than I; We ventured out on the Ladd property. You think you know what you’re doing, but this valley is always full of surprises…read the story here.

Kathryn Turner - Mead Ranch

Kathryn Turner – Mead Ranch

View22: Painting Jackson Hole’s Open Spaces is a collaboration and fundraiser art exhibition featuring the works of artists Kathryn Turner, Hoffman and Sawczuk. The exhibition’s opening reception takes place Friday, December 6th, at Trio Fine Art on North Cache. Time is 5-8 pm, with artists’ remarks beginning at 6pm. The exhibition remains up through December 21st. A portion of exhibition sales benefit the Jackson Hole Land Trust.

Drawing inspiration from Thomas Moran, the painter responsible for capturing Yellowstone’s rugged beauty so magnificently that Congress declared it and Grand Teton as national parks, View 22 celebrates the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s conservation efforts that have so dramatically affected our open spaces, and works to further cement the eternal bond between art and nature.

Bill Sawczuk - Hardeman Barn

Bill Sawczuk – Hardeman Barn

This past summer and early fall saw Turner, Hoffman and Sawczuk visiting an array of preserved open spaces, often not available to the public, and painting their landscapes, wildlife and historic valley structures. Besides benefitting the Land Trust, this show shines a light on special land tracts many of us don’t get a chance to see. Or, if you have had the luck to visit them, you may view each of these places anew. Eighteen protected properties were captured en plein air for the project; 23,000 acres have been protected by the Land Trust.

“As full-time landscape painters in Jackson Hole, we have a vital interest in the preservation of open space within our valley. It is the natural beauty found in wide open spaces that inspires our creativity. Through sharing our interpretations of the landscape, we hope to shine a spotlight on the importance of conservation efforts made possible by the Jackson Hole Land Trust,” said Turner, Hoffman, and Sawczuk.

A View 22 produced video of the artists, their activities and several locations they visited can be viewed here.

Land Trust Executive Director Laurie Andrews is thrilled with Trio Fine Art’s commitment. “Through Trio’s artists’ deep understanding of how the valley’s protected open spaces affect their daily lives, and [through] their talent and creativity, they’ve shown us all a very special view of [the Land Trust’s] work.”

For more information contact Trio Fine Art at 307.734.4444, or phone the Land Trust’s Leslie Steen at 307.733.4707. Email: leslie@jhlandtrust.org   www.triofineart.com  www.jhlandtrust.org  

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