Vessel by Rusti Warner
Rusti Warner grew up on a cattle ranch near Whitefish, MT, with an early interest in drawing, mainly horses. As she grew older, however, her artistic interests turned from four-legged creatures to the human form. Today, at 32, Warner is known for her tonalist, impressionistic, figurative pieces, often depicting Native Americans. “I am interested in focusing on indigenous people who are still living off the earth and surviving,” she says.
Warner stresses that she is not a historical painter but rather her key concern is to show contemporary people living in harmony with the earth and to capture the mood of the times. For now, she chooses to focus on American Indians as subject matter, but someday she dreams of traveling to Australia to paint the Aborigines.
Montana-based painter Russell Chatham is Warner’s mentor and a major influence on her life and art. “He has said to me that for artists to have a thick, rich body of art, they need to be more than a shell of a person. He believes that being a great artist is about being a complete person, a rich human being,” she says, noting that Chatham’s philosophy contributes to keeping her goals and standards high. Warner is represented by Journeys West Gallery, Solana Beach, CA, and Montana Trails Gallery, Bozeman, MT.
Santa Barbara Harbor by Jim Wodark
In March, Jim Wodark won an honorable mention award at the third annual Laguna Plein Air Painters Association Show held in Laguna Beach, CA. Then in May, Wodark took home a second honorable mention at the Heritage Art Exhibition and Sale in San Juan Capistrano, CA. His art star is rising.
The California landscape painter began his career using his keen sense of humor and drawing talents as a cartoonist. Eventually, Wodark decided to turn his love of painting into a full-time career. Looking back he has no regrets, and he treasures his days spent painting in the open air.
Wodark attributes his attraction to landscape painting to his early years growing up in rural Colorado. “Today I am trying to capture the atmosphere and the air between objects,” he says. “It’s always fascinating because the same scene changes from one day to the next because of the light. I want to bring the inspiration I feel when I paint a picture into people’s lives. Knowing my art brings beauty and a sense of peacefulness to their space is inspiring to me.”
He is represented by Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; Chemers Gallery, Tustin, CA; Studio 7 Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA; Sanders Galleries, Tucson, AZ; Willow Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; and www.jimwodark.com.
River Rocks I by Pat Bailey
If a viewer looks at one of his paintings depicting marbles or rocks and declares that whoever painted the piece was having fun, Arizona-based artist Pat Bailey feels a sense of accomplishment. “The truth is I am having fun. I’m not necessarily trying to say anything,” Bailey explains. “I want the viewer to take away from my paintings what they bring to it.”
Although he has painted figures, diners, and automobiles in the past, his latest painterly foray takes him to subject matter he associates with his youth, shiny marbles and glistening rocks. He has dubbed his rock and marble series “macro-landscapes.” According to Bailey, the round objects offer him a chance to play around with color, texture, and composition. “And I like how they connect with people’s universal attraction to round, colorful shapes,” he says.
Bailey keeps a pile of rocks near his studio door—ones he has collected from hikes nearby as well as from far-flung locales. When he is ready to paint the stones, he gives them a quick squirt of water and “they come to life,” often resembling rocks in a river bed. Whether he is depicting rocks or marbles, Bailey says his main goal is to give viewers a fresh way of looking at ordinary things.
The artist is represented by Duley Jones Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; Hallmark Fine Art Gallery, La Jolla, CA; Gallery 225, Santa Fe, NM; Woodriver Gallery, Ketchum, ID; Vail Village Arts, Vail, CO; and www.pbailey.com.
Featured in “Artists to Watch” September 2007