Artist John R. Wilson uses a muted palette and ethereal painting style to add wonder and mystery to his natural landscapes. See more of his art by visiting his website.
Being an artist is the most wonderful/most awful career! The most satisfying/most frustrating profession!
Yet it is one I am deeply grateful for having been privileged to share with so many talented people who would probably agree with me. They would also agree that being satisfied with your work is more important than everything else! After several decades of painting for shows and galleries, I still cannot wait to get to my easel every day.
In addition to painting the wildlife I love, I am obsessed with creating backgrounds. I can lose myself in abstract shapes, textures and colors, combining both realism and abstraction—the best of both worlds.
Luckily, artists have the ability of being able to create something wonderful out of thin air, based on what inspires them when they so choose.
My wife has become accustomed to my asking her to photograph, say, a corrugated tin wall in a restaurant because I see material for a background in a painting. Or she may notice that an ad for a stainless steel oven has been torn from one of her magazines. I see a wonderful moody landscape in the oven door’s colors. There’s fodder for paintings all around us if we are observant. Why paint a “literal” sky or background when you can use your imagination to create an atmosphere that is more appealing than real life?
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Over several decades I have been participating in two large wildlife shows. These are the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland, and the Southeastern Wildlife Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Thus, I usually painted mostly waterfowl. Now that I am also supplying galleries with my art, I am enjoying branching out to include coastal scenes and whatever else appeals to me at the moment.
The most satisfying aspect of my career has been the chance to travel and fully experience the locales I paint and to study the habitat of the wildlife and the history of whichever area I am visiting. This includes not just nature, but the small towns themselves—their activities and their “sense of place.”
For example, if you visit the area around Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where Andrew Wyeth painted, you more fully understand the mood and deeper meaning of his paintings. We’ve always taken an extra week or so after a show to explore an area. This means every painting I do is actually an accumulation of years of pleasant memories, as well as my observations of authentic wildlife and scenery.
I realize this is a large world, with so much more to explore. I can also relate to an artist immersing themselves completely in their surroundings. Wyeth painted images from within his realms of Chadds Ford and Cushing, Maine. Even so, he felt he had not yet begun to paint all the possibilities in his own “back yard.”
Realizing the truth in Wyeth’s observation has taught me to study my own stomping grounds and see the abundance of subject matter just waiting to be painted. This makes me excited to wake every day and hopefully, share that excitement with others through my paintings.
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