By Bonnie Gangelhoff
What inspired your winning entry? While at the annual Telluride Plein Air paint-out over July 4th, I noticed this very shiny Airstream trailer parked in a lot in town. It was in a perfect setting of pine trees with other trailers, and there were mountains as a backdrop. With its highly polished aluminum skin, it had wonderful reflections of the deep blue sky and the buildings across from the lot. I like painting machinery and equipment, especially vanishing American icons, such as early 1950s pickup trucks, tractors, and trailers.
Do you come from an artistic background? There’s not much of an artistic legacy in my background except for my grandmother on my mother’s side. She was a fairly decent amateur painter. I did not discover I could even paint until I was in my early 40s. My success as a fine artist in my second career is still a source of surprise and awe to me.
Where did you study art? In 1991 I took my first lessons at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In 1992 and 1993, I took many more classes and went on to teach at the academy for seven years. I have also taken workshops with Scott Christensen, Skip Whitcomb, and Kevin Macpherson.
What is your favorite subject matter and why? When I first began painting, I enjoyed painting controlled environments, such as still lifes, because I could place elements as I desired. No wind, bugs, or light changing. Later this translated into interior scenes, which are like expansive still lifes. I received my first national artistic recognition with this genre. As I competed in plein-air events over the years, I became much more comfortable with painting the landscape. However, as much success as this has brought me, I still favor painting iconic American vehicles and machinery.
What is the best advice you have ever received? The first advice came from Wayne Thiebaud, who said that he couldn’t care less what an art critic said about his paintings. All that mattered to him was that an ordinary viewer standing in front of one might think, “Wow, this guy knows how to paint. The drawing, color, and composition really work.” The second great piece of advice was, years ago, listening to a best-selling author being interviewed about his work habits. The interviewer remarked that the writer had an enviable lifestyle. He could write only when he felt inspired. The writer quickly corrected him, stating, “If I wrote only when I was inspired, I would rarely write. I would watch the news, go for coffee, talk on the phone, or surf the web. I force myself to write every day, and it is the act of writing—seeing what I have put on paper—that inspires me to continue.” Any successful career takes focus and discipline.
Representation: Carmel Fine Art, Carmel, CA; Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; The Garden Gallery, Half Moon Bay, CA; Fairmont Gallery, Sonoma, CA; Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; www.douglaspmorganart.com.
Featured in December 2011.