Hooked on the landscape
This story was featured in the February 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Locations such as marshes, aspen groves, and craggy mountains can certainly inspire a painting, says landscape artist Trey Finney. But for him, the first question is always how he will paint a subject, rather than what the specific subject or location is. Last year Finney took home a top award at the American Impressionist Society’s National Juried Exhibition, held at Abend Gallery in Denver. His award-winning landscape, DEVELOPING TWILIGHT, was inspired not necessarily by a particular locale but rather by a painting by Wolf Kahn that Finney saw at a gallery. “I enjoyed his use of color but thought his paint application was primitive, although that was probably his intent. So I challenged myself,” Finney says. “How would I abstract a scene and then introduce visual elements that were pleasing to me?”
The South Carolina-based artist graduated with a degree in illustration from Florida’s Ringling School of Art and Design and went on to spend more than a decade as an animator at Walt Disney Studios in Orlando, FL, where he worked on films such as The Lion King. Perks came with his position, such as continuing education classes in painting. A workshop with artist Len Chmiel “hooked” him on landscape painting, and he began pursuing it regularly in his spare time. When Disney closed the studios in 2004, Finney jumped at the chance to pursue a fine-art career full time.
Finney says he enjoys the freedom that comes with landscape painting, whether he is painting outdoors in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains or working inside in the quiet of his Spartanburg, SC, studio. On location Finney appreciates the experience of being in the open air and capturing a moment in time while bringing all his skills to bear, whatever the weather. In the studio he relishes the control this environment allows. He can limit his palette and choose elements to focus on, such as atmospheric perspective. One pursuit is more intuitive and spontaneous; the other is more controlled. Either way, Finney says the goal in his expressive works is to elicit an emotional response from viewers. And he adds, “But an interest in how the painting was done or that I am unique to my genre is my hope.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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