Editor’s Letter | Wildlife Art

Edge of Tomorrow by Morten Solberg. painting, southwest art.
Edge of Tomorrow by Morten Solberg

By Margaret L. Brown

Like the figurative artist, who relies on the ability to express gesture and sense of place to bring a subject to life, the wildlife artist is challenged to go beyond mere anatomical replication to create paintings and sculptures that capture an animal’s living essence and presence in the environment. Thus, while cover artist Jay Johnson travels through the wild, taking photographs of animals in their natural habitat as reference for his highly detailed acrylic paintings, in the studio he does more than record his literal observations. “When I actually start painting,” he says, “I set myself free, letting my mind take over to create colors the way I would like to see them, rather than being a slave to the exact details in the slide.”

Johnson is one of four wildlife artists profiled in this issue, all working in different media and exploring wildlife art in unique ways. Canadian Ron Kingswood takes an original approach to his large-scale oils by experimenting with color and abstraction. California painter Morten Solberg makes use of negative space in his atmospheric watercolors. And Arizona sculptor Mark Rossi blends realism with abstraction in bronzes of desert creatures and other wildlife.

In addition to our focus on wildlife, we also visit the Utah studio of renowned artist Gary Ernest Smith and watch him create one of his signature large-scale field paintings, introduce you to up-and-coming New York painter Sarah Lamb, profile western artist Jason Rich, and remember the career of Texan Tom Lea. Enjoy the issue.

Featured in June 2001