My Favorite Paintings of 2017!January 1, 2018
Cowboys and Indians Features Kathryn Mapes TurnerJune 7, 2019
As we start this brand new year, I am reflecting on the fun I had in making paintings this past one! I remain profoundly grateful that I get to spend my days with a brush (or five) in my hand.
The creative process is a magical one, I get to play the honored role of midwife as these images make their appearance on the paper or canvas. As a representational painter, I get the double privilege of slowing down to more carefully study my subject matter. As a result, I gain a much deeper appreciation of its beauty and am left with a sense of wonder.
In this collection of favorites, I am also aware of how many other people play a role in this creative process. My heartfelt thanks for their help and inspiration with these paintings!
Thank you for taking in an interest in my paintings & for all your support! I could do any of this without it.
“The Heart Sees Rightly” | 20 x 16 | oil on linen
My talented wildlife photographer friend, Brad Schwarm, is amazing. He shared with me a photo reference that he calls his “Rembrandt Fox”. How could he have known that Rembrandt is one of my heroes. Both Brad and I liked how this fox’s tender presence and piercing gaze seems to emerge from the darkness. The title came from the fox in the children’s classic, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
“The Sound of Flowers Singing” | 24 x 24 | oil on canvas
This painting was the last addition to my collection for my 2018 South East Wildlife Exposition portfolio. At the time, it was January in Jackson Hole. What a joy to just red and orange paint when, for months, all we had seen in our winter landscape was tones of white and blue! I combined careful drawing of these hummingbird form with the loose suggestions of the flowers.
“One O’clock Fox” | 20 x 16 | watercolor
Some images lend themselves to rich texture of oil paint, while others call for the light feel of watercolor. This fox, with its aliveness, soft fur and vitality seems to just ask to be rendered in the wash-y, spontaneous medium of watercolor. It took a number of preliminary sketches and renditions of this fox before I had enough understanding of its form to the confidence to dash it off in a process that doesn’t allow for erasing!
“The New Day” | 9 x 12 | oil on linen
I have wanted to paint this painting for a long time. It was inspired by a photo taken by my friend, Mary Kate, when we were on a sunrise float of the Snake River in 1993. I was so happy how it captured what I loved about that time on the river – the brightness of the early morning light that suddenly enchanted the sleepy river corridor.
“The Listener” | 16 x 12 | oil on canvas
I often get asked how long it takes me to create a painting. There is never a clear answer – each painting has its own timeline.
This painting wins the prize of the slowest painting this year – it took 11 months to paint! This is because I was unable to make the composition work for the longest time. It was a puzzle I couldn’t solve and I tried many variations that would be painted and re-painted. I felt lost and couldn’t find my way. Many times I wanted to just give up! As with many things in life, I am glad that I didn’t quit because, in the end, it ended up being one of my favorite paintings of the year because of the softness of the mood. I don’t believe this could have been achieved were it not for the many layers of paint. It was a lesson on the value of perseverance!
“Leap” | 12 x 16 | oil on board
Who doesn’t love lily pads?! I certainly am a big fan! I painted this painting of lily pads on String Lake during the 2018 Plein Air for the Park event. I was so grateful to find what seemed like a wonderfully set water still life! And lucky for me, it was close enough to the shore to access the view, but in order to do so, I had to balance my easel on two logs that extended over the water while I placed a foot on each log. One false step would land me in the drink! I think this balancing act kept the painting fresh and not over-worked because I didn’t have that luxury! I enjoy the way this painting has an interplay of form and abstraction. I also like the harmony of color.
“Charmed” | 12 x 9 | oil on canvas
I never intended for this painting to be shown to anyone. It started out a doodle that wasn’t anything to be taken seriously. I was just playing! At the recommendation of John Felsing
, I was looking at a lot of non-objective abstract paintings that used color as a way of composing. So this painting was a whimsical experiment exploring how color could move the eye and evoke emotion. It didn’t come without a great deal trial, but I am really happy that the result looks as if it was effortless. It was challenging, but also a total joy to create!
“Magic Moment” | 16 x 20 | oil on canvas
This painting has the best story of the year! It, too, was painted during the Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational. My ambitious artist friend, Jennifer L. Hoffman wanted to paint the moon setting in Lamar Valley. The necessitated that we get a very early morning start to be on location and set up before daybreak. As we were painting this view, Jen noticed that a distant ‘rock’ had started moving. The rock turned out to be a wolf who was soon joined by nine others in the pack. It was extraordinary to be the only ones watching them across the valley. By the time the sun rose, they were gone.
“Mammoth” | 9 x 12 | oil
In late September, I was really fortunate to be invited to paint with a very talented group of artists in Yellowstone during their 1st Annual Plein Air Invitational
. Thomas Moran has always been a huge inspiration to me and this transparently painted oil was painted with his work in mind.
“Half Full” | 8 x 8 | watercolor
For my birthday, my friend Kathy Bressler
gave me some beautiful peonies. Because peonies are complex with so many petals, I wanted to see how simplified a single blossom could be rendered. Watercolor was the perfect medium for this pursuit. With some luck, this one was distilled to say just enough…like a poem! A peony poem!