A Holiday Small Works Show

 

This December, Cassens Fine Art invites you to explore the rich and wild tapestry of Western art with a showcase of one-of-a-kind paintings measuring 12X12 inches or smaller from 19 artists. As snow blankets the Bitterroot Valley and the quiet of winter settles in, we believe there’s no better way to capture the magic of the season than to showcase the beauty of the West in all its seasons.

 

This exhibit will be on display for the month of December, with an artist's reception taking place on December 1st, 2023.

 


Our Holiday Small Works Exhibition offers a unique opportunity to discover and collect exquisite small-scale artworks from artists you know and love and those who might become your new favorites. View works from Sarah Bramme, Craig Birch, Bailey Burton, Ed Durose, Coila Evans, Jake Gaedtke, Teresa Garland Warner, Tracie Hubbard, Colt Idol, Karen Savory, Thomas English, Shirle Wempner, Jordan Walker, Turner Vinson, Elene Weege, Kenneth Yarus, Tyler Murphy, Paul Hill, and Bailey Miller.

 

Each of these artists brings a unique voice to the paintings, offering a profound perspective on the land, history, beauty, and traditions of the American West. Cassens Fine Art sat down with a few of the featured artists in this exhibition to learn more about their journey as an artist, the moment they realized that they wanted to pursue art, the inspiration and techniques behind their works for this show, and what they hope the community will notice and appreciate in their paint strokes.

First up is Paul Hill. Hill lives and paints in Idaho, where he was born and raised. He resides in Coeur d’Alene where he enjoys painting subjects that are local and familiar “before they are gone.”

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

I am a native North Idahoan who was born on a farm/ranch. I grew up with cows and horses and I hunted most of my life, so I learned to appreciate wildlife and ranch stock. I suppose those things never leave you. I spent countless years out in nature and so when I began painting many years ago, I was naturally drawn to landscapes and wildlife as well as ranch subjects. They comprise the majority of my subjects.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

I have painted for nearly 50 years. As a child of nine, my photos taken on my old 110 Instamatic were mostly of rocks, trees, and mountains - and I couldn’t understand why. Now, I realize that I was simply seeing forms, shadows, highlights, and values without realizing what they were. I guess I was simply born with an appreciation of nature and wanted a way to capture it. As a young adult, I resumed painting after I graduated from college because I wanted a creative outlet to get me through winter! It became my absolute passion after that and continues today.

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

My best friend and I get together a couple of times a year to paint en plein air as well as to just hang out. We’ve done this since 1979 when we used to hunt every year. I love the area around Yellowstone, Island Park, Idaho, and Ennis, Montana. I’ve spent a lot of time painting those areas. The fact that I love to paint nature scenes is only enhanced by those incredibly beautiful places. As an animal lover, I like to place animals in many of my landscapes that are naturally found in those areas and help provide a center of interest for the composition. I also love old buildings, trucks, and tractors. I paint them to help keep them alive after they are all gone.

 

Could you describe the techniques and mediums you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

Most of my submission pieces started as plein air studies in oil paint. I try to limit the painting to 90 minutes as the light changes so fast. I take digital photos of the scene while I paint to help inform my adjustments or additions in the studio if needed. The studio pieces that I paint are either oil or acrylic, depending on the subject matter. On old buildings or vehicles, I often use acrylic paints because they dry so fast that I can apply layers quickly without turning them into mud. I attempt to add light to all my work to give it more depth and to help lead the eye throughout the composition. I also feel like it makes a painting much more attractive and interesting to look at.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

The old barn painting that I submitted is titled, “Lean on Me”. Its name reflects the barn being held up by a couple of volunteer pine trees that grew between the barn and the grain silo. The trees held that barn up for many years until enough lumber was pilfered that the structure collapsed last winter. I’m glad that I have as many pictures as I do because it is one of my most popular subjects.

Next, we spoke with Elene Weege. Elene Weege is an accomplished landscape painter in Stevensville, MT, and paints with both pastels and oils. She 'sculpts' the seasons of the West in three dimensions. Her style of oils, which are popular for the unique quality of texture and light, is achieved through her long-used practice of the palette knife. She also uses pastels to interpret the softer side of nature.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

I was taking some night courses in business and I signed up for a drawing course. I was hooked from that point and it stayed in the back of my mind over the years I spent as the director of a medical imaging department. I took an early retirement, sketched out a plan for my art career, and went back to school for art. I studied for five years at two campuses, focusing on fine arts with special attention to oil painting and photography.

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

My artistic focus centers around the four seasons and I find ample subject matter. My husband was an avid outdoorsman and introduced me to the finer and more detailed side of nature, as I accompanied him on walks and hunting trips. He stressed observation and respect for the landscape and endlessly explained the ways of nature. I endeavor to bring through my artwork, the natural settings of the American West.

 

Could you describe the techniques and mediums you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

My style of oil painting is the use of the palette knife as opposed to the brush. This method allows me to sculpt the scene on the canvas creating texture that mimics nature and produces the mood of the place. I use different grounds and I especially like stretched canvas, which gives and breathes with each stroke of the knife.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

Viewing and/or judging art is very subjective. I hope to inspire those who see my work, to enable them to feel and observe a moment in nature through the beauty of light and how it shapes the landscape around us.

Teresa Garland Warner has lived and worked in Missoula, MT since 1991 with her husband and two daughters. As a Texas native, she showed great promise as a young artist, receiving awards such as first place in drawing at the Dallas Scholastic Art Show and exhibiting at the University of Dallas Art Competition. A busy almost 30-year career in medicine followed college and medical school, although she has always maintained her work in art. She retired from the medical field in 2009 to pursue her passion for painting full-time. Her degree earned at Texas Tech University, included studies in life drawing and watercolor.

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

I went to public schools in Dallas and had art class every day for an hour from first grade until high school graduation with wonderful teachers. We had access to all the different media. My parents were depression-era and they valued education and job security. I was not aware you could make a living from fine art (not that it's easy) and I wasn't interested in teaching or advertising art. I found out about medical art and there was a master's degree program at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

 

The program was very discouraging about the field and suggested I should go to medical school first. This was before computers. I became a physician and practiced anesthesiology for almost 30 years. When I had time, I tried to maintain an art practice, but it was very difficult with work in addition to raising a family. It was also tricky to switch from left-brain to right-brain activities often. At the beginning of my medical career, I set the goal of retiring at 55 and then moving on to painting full-time. I did that.

 

I am very grateful to be able to paint. I think prior life experiences enhance my art and give it meaning. Medicine is very stressful and complications can have huge implications for the patient. In art, a difficulty is simply a personal learning experience. I also appreciate this different kind of challenge and I'm never bored because there's always more to learn and improvement continues forever. I love "being in the flow" when painting. Plein air painting has the added advantage of being out in nature and having that glorious experience. I'm grateful to live in such a beautiful place that inspires great painting. 

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

I always knew I would pursue art when I was able to take the time to do it well. 

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

My husband and I travel to beautiful painting locations in our motorhome. This summer we were able to go to the east side of Glacier Park - one of my favorite places. I love the light on the mountains at dusk, which I captured in my painting, "Late in the Day.” I was plein air painting by Swiftcurrent Creek near Many Glacier Campground. A Ranger stopped by to see if I'd seen two orphaned yearling grizzly bears who had been in the area. That made me a bit uncomfortable, but fortunately, I didn't see them.

 

Across the creek was Grinnell Point was backlit, which made the colors of the rocks and foliage appear very subtle but interesting which I captured in my painting titled, “Grinnell Point.” On the other side of the campground was an unnamed waterfall on a little used spur trail which was the inspiration for my painting titled, "Hidden Waterfall.” I learned about it from the wife of a park employee and she swore me to secrecy to keep the location hidden.

 

In the fall we traveled to Bryce and Zion National Parks which I also love. I painted from the overlook in Bryce looking down on all the interesting hoodoos, in which I drew inspiration for my painting titled, “Hoodoos.” The rock formations in each of those parks are so unique and amazing. There are many European tourists there and I think that’s because there's no other place that has these wild and interesting formations. 

 

Could you describe the techniques and mediums you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

I plein air painted on location in oil on linen panels in these national parks. 

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

I love the light on the mountains, particularly at dawn and dusk. "Late in the Day" was a painting that flowed and conveyed the emotion I felt gazing at those magnificent mountains. In "Hidden Waterfall" I experimented with different whites to interpret the characteristics of the water. "Hoodoos" demonstrates the vast expanse of Bryce Canyon and the unusual rock formations. 

An appreciation of both nature and art has always been a part of Karen Savory’s life. Growing up along the Niagara River in Western NY, she could never get enough of either. 

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

I grew up watching my mom take almost every aspect of life and make it into an art project. She always doodled while on the phone, painted huge holiday scenes for our windows, and made most of our clothes, giving each piece its flair. Birthday cakes were not your average chocolate cake, decorations were all handmade, she reupholstered our furniture on more than one occasion, and the list goes on and on. In our house, if my mom could make it she did. And if you wanted to help, you were more than welcome!

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

Like my mom, I was an incessant doodler. Art has always been a passion of mine, and something I couldn't help but do. My parents, however, had a pragmatic outlook on life and I was discouraged from a career that had “starvation” associated with it. They said, I could always make art, but I needed to find a way to support myself first. I took their advice and became a physical therapist, made funny little hand-drawn exercise sheets for my patients, and creatively found ways to incorporate art into my life. In 2014, I no longer feared “starvation” and became a full-time artist and doodle for a living now.

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

Last spring I began making tiny little frog portrait paintings because they are pretty cool and funny looking, but also because I was thinking a lot about the myth of frogs in boiling water as our Montana summer was forecasted to be hot. Summer came. It was hot at times, and frogs stayed on my mind. But now, just in the silliest of ways, I began wondering what it is that makes frogs tick. Do they fall in love? Given a choice would they drink something other than pond water? What is it that makes them look so blissfully happy all the time? These mini paintings are what I imagine are the secret lives of frogs in the wild, wild West.

 

Could you describe the techniques and mediums you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

A friend of mine introduced me to painting and drawing on wood this fall. I enthusiastically gave it a try and I have used it for these paintings. I draw my idea on a piece of cabinet-grade plywood, under-paint it with watercolor, and then enhance it with layers and layers of colored pencils. In the end, I seal it with a UV-resistant archival varnish.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

I love all of my pieces for this show. They make me smile and feel very happy inside and that is what I hope viewers will feel too.

Creative from a very young age, Sarah Bramme always felt called to be an artist.  She was constantly creating whenever she could, taking multiple courses and workshops. It was during this time that she knew her dream was to be a professional artist.

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

I grew up in an unstable and rocky environment. My parents split up when I was a few months old. Even though I didn’t know my biological father, one thing I did know was that he was artistic. The only thing I had of his was his old sketchbook. I was fascinated with his sketchbook and I found myself drawing all the time. Art became my sanctuary, especially in the environment that I was in. I would spend hours creating, and I think that was always my connection to him.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

I can’t really explain it. I just always felt deep within my soul that I was meant to be a professional artist. I always knew it was a chapter in my life that I just hadn’t gotten to yet. Now that my kids are older and with that, the seasons shifted in my life, it was finally time for me to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a professional artist.

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

The inspiration behind these minis was to capture the sense of calm and peace that the great wilderness brings me. I love watching the light dance along trees and peak through the leaves. It always brings me a sense of wonder and comfort. So, for these minis, I used that same feeling while I was creating these.

 

Could you describe the techniques and medium you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

I do mixed media oil. I started with writing the words, love, light, peace, joy, rest on the canvases to “charge” my pieces with an intention. Then, I did fun loose layer inks to give it a wild and free flowing base. After sketching in the scene with charcoal, I mostly used acrylics, accentuating the light with iridescent, transparent paints. Then, I finished the whole painting with oils. Oils bring so much life and vibrancy to the pieces, and I love playing with the warm and cool temperatures of oils. They are living colors, and playing with their frequencies brings depth to each piece.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

I really hope the viewers notice the iridescent shimmer of light in each piece. I really wanted to capture the glow that the sun makes when it dances through the trees. I hope it inspires people to slow down, breathe, and feel the tranquility and calmness that nature brings. 

Jordan K. Walker is an award winning landscape painter, illustrator, and teacher based in Eugene, Oregon. His work explores the complex and varied landscapes of the American West. 

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

I grew up in Rhode Island. Some of my earliest memories involve the rocks and tide pools of the Atlantic coast. Though I lived in a relatively urban area as a child, I treasured all opportunities to get out into the woods and explore the natural world. I also spent a great deal of time reading; natural history books, popular science volumes, and numerous sci-fi and fantasy novels. Wrapped up in a world of my own, I filled dozens of sketchbooks with creatures, characters, and immersive environments of my own creation. Both of my parents are creative individuals, and they always encouraged my efforts.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

There was a time during middle school where I was torn between pursuing a future as a biologist or an artist. I wanted to travel the world and study new and unusual species, but at some point I realized two things: 1) I had no interest in math or repetitive data gathering, and 2) Given enough time and focus I could study these creatures as an artist, and even invent some of my own!

 

This began an incredibly focused period of my life where I devoted all of my time to developing my skills as an artist, specifically with the goal of becoming an illustrator and concept artist for the entertainment design industry. After my time at the Rhode Island School of Design, I moved to Oregon with my partner (fellow artist and amazing wildlife illustrator, Emily Poole), and fell in love with the awe inspiring landscapes of the American west. This catalyzed a shift in my focus, and I've been working to portray these spaces and the varied ecosystems that they are comprised of ever since. 

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

The paintings I've included In this year's show are pretty different from one another, but they showcase some of my favorite aspects of the Intermountain West. I am really drawn to the complexity of alpine scree piles and rock formations. These features reveal the strength and structure of the earth like nothing else.

 

It was a lot of fun to represent a space where these rocky elements are interspersed with wispy stands of spring trees in "Into the Aspen Grove.” There is a similar sense of contrast in "Restless Skies,” where soft cloud formations dance over a rugged butte. This painting also emphasizes the sense of distance and depth so characteristic of this region. "Mountainous Morning" portrays a sunrise I experienced at the base of the mountains in Grand Teton National Park, while "Alpine Shores" is an exploration of a talus lake high on the shoulders of these same peaks.

 

Could you describe the techniques and medium you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

I work in oil on linen panels, often painting with a very direct approach. I describe the three dimensional forms in my paintings using cross contour brushwork. I use a variety of mark making techniques, and work to render forms accurately, but with as much simplicity as possible. It might appear that I paint quickly and sometimes randomly, but every brushstroke is actually carefully considered and designed to evoke the power and emotion of whatever scene I'm portraying.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

I'm quite proud of "Alpine Shores.” I was able to articulate the complexity of this glacial talus lake and the patterns of the rocks within it much better than I expected myself to on such a small scale. I love the way the granite boulders in this landscape are strewn around and so strongly influenced by the attributes of the water. It was a really fun piece to paint!

Tracie Hubbard has enjoyed drawing and painting since early childhood. She began painting at the age of 13, encouraged and supported by her grandmother, an oil painter. She continued to paint throughout high school and beyond, focusing on art while attending the University of Montana. Her early work reflected her love of animals, consisting mostly of western wildlife and pet portraits.

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

In 1975, our family packed up everything and moved from California to the Bitterroot Valley, where my parents found their dream hobby farm complete with a rustic log home. Starting at age 10, I joined a local 4-H club and took on many hobbies and projects. Being a solitary "country kid,” I needed to stay busy and I found joy in raising animals, sewing, crafting, and baking. My ability to work alone and enjoy the process of creating was developed early. My connection with animals and birds inspired much of my art.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

When I was in junior high my mom signed me up for private painting lessons with a local artist named William K. Peterson. From the moment I created my first landscape in oil paints, I was hooked. I had been fascinated with the idea of painting after seeing the beautiful oil paintings my grandmother had created. There were times in my life when school, work and raising a family did not allow me much time for painting, but I always knew I would eventually pursue art full-time.

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

All of my mini paintings were created from my own photo references, taken near or at my home. Over the years I have taken thousands of photos of chickadees and other birds who inhabit my yard. A couple of years ago, a family of foxes took up residence not far from my house, and I happened to capture some great shots from my car. They became the subjects of "The Babysitter" and "Keep Your Distance." I'm so blessed to be surrounded by beautiful scenery and wildlife, and I feel compelled to share those images through my art.

 

Could you describe the techniques and medium you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

All of my paintings were created with fine quality oil paints and mediums. I began with thin layers of paint applied with brushes to render the subjects. To give the paintings more depth and texture I added heavier layers of paint applied with a palette knife. I love the process of creating work using a variety of tools.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

My coneflower piece, entitled "Evening Flight" is very meaningful to me because I have enjoyed painting these gorgeous flowers in my backyard for several years now. The addition of the bumblebee was inspired by my granddaughter's newfound fascination with bees and butterflies.

Turner Vinson’s aim and goal as an artist is to represent the world around him. Turner often finds inspiration for paintings in his own backyard, a family member's gaze, or the landscape that surrounds him. The vast majority of his work is done from direct observation, painted from life. 

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

Art actually wasn't part of my upbringing at all. Oddly enough, I wasn't exposed to galleries, museums, or working artists at all as a kid. I didn't find the world of art until college, but when I did, I was all in.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

I've always enjoyed a good challenge, and I grew up as a very competitive athlete. As my interest in art grew, my competitive spirit began to show itself more and more. And not in a competition against other artists kind of way, but in a way that challenged myself, my beliefs, and my ability to take my art as far as possible. These desires entered right when I began seriously studying art, and have only continued to grow as I continue to pursue my craft. 

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

I'm constantly and continually inspired by the landscape that is around me. As I'm walking through the woods, or alongside the river or a lake, I'm searching for an arrangement within the landscape that I find compelling. Many of these pieces are made close to home, which is something that I cherish. 

 

Could you describe the techniques and medium you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

All of my pieces for this show are impressionistic oil paintings. 

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

Every time that I find myself at the easel standing out in nature surrounded by our incredible landscape here in Montana, I am overcome with an eagerness and kind of purposeful excitement. I try my best to capture some of that feeling within each canvas that I paint.

Born and raised in California, painter Bailey Miller has always had nature right at her back door. Her exploration began with road trips along Highway 1, backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and progressed into adventures that crossed state lines which led her to her new home in Idaho. Nature has continually had her heart. Bailey always enjoyed drawing but did not pick up painting until her freshman year of college.

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

While my discovery and love for painting truly came out of left field during my freshman year of college, my upbringing has absolutely played a role in my journey as an artist. Growing up, I aspired to be a professional athlete and through that learned the value of hard work, dedication, resilience, and in my opinion the most important, perseverance. While words like that are not typically what comes to mind when one thinks of life as an artist, I’ve found those skills to be the essential building blocks in my journey and also what gave confidence to my 18-year-old self to follow my heart’s call to paint and eventually pursue it as a career.

 

With the majority of my adolescence being spent outside, nature’s heavy influence on my painting process was a given. It easily translated into an artist hungry for adventure and witnessing God’s beauty firsthand to gather inspiration to put on canvas. While at the time, I could not have said my upbringing was leading me down a path towards painting itself, looking back, it is what has given me the ability to face the unknown and build a career that fosters my deep love and joy for painting and the opportunity to share it with others.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

On the last day of class in a college writing course specific to my major at the time, kinesiology, my professor handed out a parting gift from her personal library to each student. I was gifted “Breaking Trail” by Arlene Blum, a book that chronicles the extraordinary journey of a female mountaineer who lived her life in the unknown fearlessly chasing her dreams. When looking back at my coursework throughout the semester, I had not been writing of my goals with kinesiology, but instead of my hopes and dreams with painting. Without really realizing it, I had already begun my pursuit of my newfound dream. I mark that moment in that classroom as a turning point for me. A professor who ultimately knew so little about me opened my eyes to what my heart already knew to be true, and with a small gift offered the encouragement to completely change directions with my life. Over a decade later, I have climbed so many mountains both literally and figuratively, and have realized my dream and continue to build on it each and every day. I only wish my professor knew what an impact such a small gesture played in my life.

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

My hope with this collection of work was to share the quiet moments from adventures that inspire. Adventures do not have to be wild and adrenaline-invoking, sometimes they are merely about finding peace and inspiration in God’s beauty. My miniature works for this show capture the stillness of nature in scenes such as a sunrise in the mountains, or a cold winter's night beneath the glow of the moon. As someone who never sits still and is always chasing the next mountain to climb, I love the shift in gears this collection offered me. It served as a reminder to slow down and enjoy the view. I hope that each painting is eye-catching in a way that draws the audience into the scene and incites the desire to take a deep breath and enjoy a tranquil moment in nature.

 

Could you describe the techniques and mediums you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

Working in thin layers of oil paint, I begin with larger shapes and slowly form a scene. As the painting develops, the brushes progressively get smaller as my focus turns to the details. In every painting, I hope to not only capture the beautiful array of colors in a landscape but also the delicate details. By using a glazing technique, light can shine through the layers of paint maintaining a vibrance of color and allowing the painting itself to have the essence of its own light source.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

Painting water is one of my favorite elements in nature to draw inspiration from. Its fluid movements, transparent qualities, and how it interacts with light fascinate me. I chose to capture water in its various forms in many of the paintings created for this collection of work including, the glasslike qualities of a lake at sunrise in “First Light”, a windswept reflection at dawn in “A Touch of Fall”, and the dancing of sunlight through crystal clear waters of an alpine lake in “Paradise Found.” Creating a sense of motion in the water itself and its relationship with the sun in “Paradise Found,” was such a joy and challenge to work on. I hope that through my techniques, the audience feels the warmth of the sunshine on their skin and as if at any given moment water may splash out of the painting.

Shirle Wempner, raised on a horse ranch, receives inspiration for her art in all aspects of nature surrounding her. Inspired at a young age to fully appreciate the beauty the outdoors has to offer, she has expanded her creative desires to capture the essence of her subject matter, whether it be wildlife, ranch scenes, figurative or landscape subjects.

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

I was raised on a horse ranch and spent my childhood riding the rolling hills of our ranch outside of Billings, Montana, working with horses, cattle, sheep, and other farm animals. This inspired a great appreciation of nature and my desire to capture the animals that I spent my childhood with. I started painting wildlife and domestic animals as a young child, continued throughout my college days, and then into my professional life.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

I always enjoyed art and I would create in my spare time as I worked full-time as a paralegal. So, there wasn’t necessarily a pivotal moment for me. However, when I retired from my paralegal position, I was able to devote all my efforts to painting and I’ve been creating ever since. I have a studio in my home and I spend hours everyday planning, painting, and creating my artwork. I have been excited to explore different approaches to my work, as well as move between more realistic representations to abstract and suggested images while incorporating colors and energetic brushstrokes to create a mood with each piece.

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

I did several paintings of birds, which I really enjoy doing. The bright colors, quick movement, and grace of birds are captivating to me, and I like the challenge of painting a short glimpse of these delicate creatures. I did a mule deer and goat reflecting my joy in farm animals and wildlife. I’m surrounded, daily, by these animals as I live on a ranch outside of Big Timber, Montana. I also included a painting I did of a cowboy who modeled for a group of painters, which I enjoyed doing. Capturing his essence was my goal while keeping the details simple, focusing on his posture and presence.

 

Could you describe the techniques and mediums you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

I paint predominantly in oils and use complementary colors, passive colors, broad brushstrokes, and palette knife techniques to create a sense of movement, mood, and excitement with each piece. Many times, I layer my oil paint resulting in a depth to the subject matter, as well as blending edges for contrast between sharp and soft edges, abstracting or suggesting the subject.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

My interest is focused on single subjects for the most part. I use color, soft edges, and composition to focus the viewer on my main subject, but I also work hard to maintain a certain mood for each piece. I have a general idea of what I want to paint when I start, but then as the painting evolves, I allow my creative desires to move in other directions I did not necessarily plan to go. When I tap into that energy, I find the painting paints itself and is much more dynamic and visually enjoyable. Those are the paintings I cherish the most.

Last, is Jake Gaedtke. As a second grader, Gaedtke was completely lost and separated from the rest of his class as they toured the Detroit Museum of Art. The paintings that surrounded him had Gaedtke so spellbound that he was cut off from his class, and found himself mesmerized in a sea of art. He wanted so much to be able to do the work he was seeing before him on the walls. That desire never left him. Like most landscape painters, Jake loved the outdoors and he grew up spending a great deal of time camping, fishing, hiking, and exploring. He believes his purpose as an artist is to share his vision and experience of the natural world and its many marvels.

 

Can you share some insights into your upbringing and how it might have influenced your journey as an artist?

 

As far back as I can remember, I loved to draw. I was always drawing at home and at school. When I was in the 5th and 6th grades, I would stay after school and draw whatever it was we were studying at the time - ancient Roman and Greek history, the human muscular system, our solar system. My teachers would put my drawings up on the classroom walls. They were very encouraging with my artwork, as were my parents. I loved illustration. Our family had all kinds of books with incredible illustrations that I would spend hours studying and looking at.

 

Whatever my parents could do to help me get better, they did. Unfortunately, everyone (including my parents) discouraged me from being a fine artist. I was told that one cannot make a living as a fine artist and that I should become a commercial artist (graphic designer) which didn't interest me at all. I always wanted to be a fine artist or illustrator. Because of so much discouragement, I did go into commercial art which I didn’t enjoy, and I eventually found my way to becoming a full-time fine artist - which is another story.

 

Describe the pivotal moment when you realized that pursuing art was the path you wanted to take. What led to this realization and how did it shape your artistic journey?

 

I always wanted to be a landscape painter because of my love for the land and outdoors, but had no idea how to paint landscapes. I was always a figurative painter and I also did portraits. A new art academy had opened in Loveland, Colorado not far from where I lived. The academy offered all kinds of classes, including plein-air painting workshops. I ended up taking a plein air painting workshop from the landscape painter, Jay Moore. That changed everything for me. I knew after taking Jay's workshop that was what I wanted to do and it was the direction I wanted to pursue. I took a few more workshops with Jay and ended up going through Jay's mentorship program one-on-one. His mentorship elevated me to a professional level. I never looked back.

 

Can you share the inspirations behind some or all of the mini paintings you've created for this show - including any personal connections or stories? What motivated you to create these particular pieces?

 

My paintings for the mini-show are all plein air work I did during the beautiful autumn season we recently had. In the past, it was difficult for me to get out and paint during the fall season due to other obligations with shows and galleries. This year I was able to get out often and take a few paintings, including one with the Montana Painters Alliance where we painted in the Bitterroot Valley. You could not ask for better fall weather than we had this year. It was an Indian Summer at its best, and I really enjoyed it. My paintings are primarily along the Bitterroot River and Skalkaho Bend area. I also took a trip north of Missoula to Huson for a few days and did some painting in that area as well.

 

Could you describe the techniques and mediums you used in creating your pieces for this show?

 

Being plein air paintings, my technique is basically plein air techniques painting on location in oil paints. I try to keep things simple and "suggest" certain elements of the location and focus mainly on one particular item and everything else is supportive of that focal point.

 

Is there a specific piece or part of a piece that you find particularly meaningful or interesting? What do you hope viewers will notice and appreciate when they see it?

 

I don't believe I have any one particular painting that is meaningful. The entire experience of being out in such a beautiful time of year with such great weather gave me the inspiration to really get intimate with the season and its effect on the landscape. There are a couple of paintings that turned out exactly as I envisioned when I first started painting them and that's always a good feeling.

 


 

Cassens Fine Art’s Holiday Minis Show will be on display for the month of December, with an artist's reception taking place on December 1st, 2023. Gallery patrons are invited to come to the reception to view the pieces, meet the artists behind them, and do some holiday shopping.

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