Composing amid nature
This story was featured in the June 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art June 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art June 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
For Dennis Rhoades, the art of composing a good painting is similar to that of composing a great musical score—each has to possess harmony, cadence, contrast, and a theme. “They both lead the eye or the ear through various passages of tempo and color but continually back to the center of interest or the chorus,” Rhoades says.
The Colorado-based landscape painter says it’s rare to find all these elements together and perfectly arranged in one place. Thus, sometimes his job is to rearrange Mother Nature’s scenery in order to produce a work that he is proud to sign. Although Rhoades paints some works in oils, pastel is his medium of choice and one that has garnered him an array of awards from the Pastel Society of Colorado and Pastel Journal magazine. He is also a member of the prestigious Pastel Society of America.
After graduating with a degree in fine art and design from the Kansas City Art Institute, Rhoades built a successful career as a graphic designer before becoming a full-time fine artist. When a friend introduced him to plein-air painting about 10 years ago, he was immediately smitten. “I was drawn to the mountains, the crisp air, bright sunshine, autumn trees at altitude, the clear water, the many various rock formations, and, most of all, the colors,” Rhoades says.
In terms of subject matter, Rhoades says he tends to paint with themes in mind, whether it’s the Rocky Mountains outside his front door or a few of his other favorite artistic haunts, such as Colorado’s Red Rocks Park and Lair o’ the Bear Park. These days one of his main themes is rocks and rock formations. But he is quick to say that a month from now he may turn to other natural elements that are part of his everyday environment. Although he does do some studio painting, he prefers painting en plein air. “Painting on location gives me true colors and an atmospheric, ‘being there’ feeling that I try to convey to the viewer,” Rhoades says. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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