Where man meets nature
This story was featured in the March 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Andy Evansen has painted all over the world, from China to Southern California. But Midwestern farm country is what speaks to him on the most visceral level. A native Midwesterner, he finds an array of alluring elements there—grain elevators, tractors, cows, farmhouses, farmers, frozen lakes, and snow-covered pastures. “They all come together to create interesting shapes and textures,” Evansen says.
But the Minnesota artist, who is the president of the prestigious Plein Air Painters of America group, has portable talents. Not only does he receive awards for his watercolor depictions of his native Midwest, but he is just as likely to receive kudos for capturing scenes beyond his home base. At last year’s Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational, Evansen received the Artists’ Choice award for his impressionistic body of work spotlighting the Southern California coast’s trademark cottages, cliffs, and beaches. And recently he garnered international acclaim as one of six artists from around the world invited to Nanjing, China, to show his work.
A former medical illustrator, Evansen says he began painting landscapes in his spare time years ago. But in 2011, after receiving awards for his work and selling a number of paintings, he took a leap of faith to pursue a full-time career in fine art. Although Evansen is known as a landscape painter, painting nature alone doesn’t pique his creative curiosity. What does intrigue him is portraying man’s interaction with nature—capturing the crossroads where the two intersect. On a recent painting trip to Jackson, WY, for example, he struggled with a painting that featured only mountains and trees. He soon began scouring the terrain for a ranch or even some hikers he could place on the deserted mountain trails. “People and structures add more defined shapes and stronger patterns of light and dark,” Evansen says. “But I truly believe a painting should leave something to the viewer’s imagination, otherwise it becomes a rendering. If you spell everything out, there is no room for interpretation and the painting becomes boring.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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