Event Spotlight | Oil Painters of America

Evergreen, CO, Evergreen Fine Art, June 22-July 21

Dan McCaw

X. Song Jiang, Rain Day, oil, 16 x 20.

Every year, the Oil Painters of America strives to assemble the best collection of new representational oil paintings for its annual exhibition. This month the OPA brings its 21st annual National Juried Exhibition to Evergreen Fine Art, in Evergreen, CO, from June 22 through July 21.

The opening-weekend festivities begin on Friday, June 22, with a morning painting demonstration by Denver-based master painter Quang Ho. It’s followed that afternoon by OPA’s Distinguished Artist Series, an interview with Master Signature Member artist Daniel E. Greene, who offers a glimpse into the life of a portrait artist. The exhibition commences with an artists’ reception that evening from 5 to 8 p.m. at Evergreen Fine Art, and the awards ceremony follows at the Evergreen Elks Lodge at 8:15, where more than $75,000 in prizes are presented. Painting demonstrations and presentations continue throughout the weekend.

The OPA was founded in 1991 in response to the dwindling number of representational art programs in an art world that was moving quickly toward abstraction and the avant-garde. The OPA is dedicated to nurturing and fostering representational art through shows, exhibits, educational programs, and scholarships. In the pages that follow we introduce you to a number of OPA member artists, many of whom are participating in this month’s show.

Cecy Turner, Silent Summons, Utah, oil, 15 x 30.

Janet Anderson experimented with many mediums looking for ways to express herself creatively, but she came to oil painting as a way to express her passion for the beauty of the outdoors. She paints still lifes and figurative works as well, but she considers herself primarily a western landscape painter. Anderson captures peaceful, subdued places, like snowy forests, remote canyon back roads, and early-morning hay fields.

Portrait artist Tracy Anderson, who was encouraged to express her creativity from an early age, grew up painting horses on her bedroom walls. But it wasn’t until she was raising her own family that she began taking portrait-painting classes. Today she lives in Minnesota and paints figurative works, often with the drama of strong chiaroscuro.

Denver-area artist Judith Babcock strives to communicate her joy of painting through her work. A landscape and still-life painter, Babcock experiments with bold color applications in works that run the gamut from highly representational to more abstracted. The changing colors of the western landscape, flowers, fruit, and angels dominate her oeuvre.

With a wide variety of subject matter and a deep portfolio, Alabama painter Elizabeth Blaylock creates impressionistic oils of everything from roosters to florals to fruit and vegetable still lifes to beach scenes. Her canvases, many of them created as part of her “painting a day” effort, offer a slice of life on the Gulf Coast.

Mark Boyle works in oils, pastels, and watercolors and depicts the natural world with heightened, rich color. His subject matter includes nocturnal beach scenes, streams filled with pooling trout, an-glers, wildlife, and mountain and coastal landscapes.

Mitch Caster, Tango, oil, 22 x 28.

Mitch Caster spent many years doing graphic art and courtroom sketching before becoming a full-time fine artist. Since 1994 the skilled figurative painter has worked with and painted the Colorado Ballet, but he finds inspiration for his works all around the world. He also paints still lifes and landscapes and is drawn to everything from the crumbling edifices of Europe to vistas of Rocky Mountain ridges.

Denver artist Raj Chaudhuri draws on his East Indian heritage to produce impressionistic figurative works featuring the turban-topped market sellers and sari-
wrapped market shoppers of his homeland—to document the people as they are, he says, before advancement and technology change their way of life forever.

Since he was a boy, Tim Deibler has had a singular focus on painting landscapes. He grew up in Oklahoma studying with the talented artists of the area and today lives in Colorado, where he paints the Rocky Mountain and Southwestern landscape in all seasons. A cruise up the Inside Passage to Alaska inspired his recent coastal mountain series.

Jeanne Echternach paints from Colorado and captures the local landscape, simplifying each scene to obtain the strongest impact. Her most recent work is a study of how color affects the mood of her pieces. Still lifes, urbanscapes, and coastal scenes figure heavily in her work.

X. Song Jiang is a native of China who currently resides in Ontario, Canada. His works utilize strong, short brush strokes and thick paint. He paints landscapes and cityscapes along canals, rivers, and marinas all around the world, from his native China to Venice to Chicago and his current home in Toronto.

“I do art because I have to,” says Denver-
area impressionistic painter Deb Kaylor, who has only recently been able to fully devote herself to her passion. She is fascinated by “children being children” and paints the narrow alleys of European cities, pastoral landscapes, and portraits—as often of sheep as humans.

Linda Massey, Barbaro, oil, 24 x 36.

Linda Massey is a longtime horse woman, and her love for all things equine shines forth in works featuring horses at full tilt and dramatically framed on the canvas. Her portraits of hunting hounds and horses capture the spirit and energy surrounding an equine lifestyle.

Bonnie McGee says she strives to capture the emotion or truth of a place, and she does so by painting the Rocky Mountains—and other far-flung locales she visits—en plein air. Mountain lakes and streams, Colorado’s “fourteeners,” and high-country ranches are some of her favorite subjects.

Melinda Nemechek makes her home in the Colorado Rockies, where she says she sees paintings everywhere she looks. Her favorite subjects include mountain streams and lakes, fly fishermen, autumn’s golden aspens, and high-country wilderness cabins.

Making her home in the desert Southwest, Toni Perrin applies her brush to both portraits and plein-air landscape paintings. Her favorite subjects are the red-rock canyons and buttes and the waterways that cut through them.

Texas-based artist Richard Prather is a biologist by training and trade. His first forays into art were marked by clinical, scientific detail driven by a need for honest representation. Today the artist allows emotion and energy to drive his highly textural plein-air landscapes of the ranchlands and hill country of the Southwest and quiet Rocky Mountain byways.

Plein-air painter Grace Schlesier begins with studies she paints on location, then spends weeks or months creating finished works in her studio. She captures the surf along California’s rocky coast, high Sierra streams, and California’s Mediterranean architecture with loose, impressionistic brushwork.

For Daria Shachmut, it’s all about the animals—cows, in particular. Since her earliest years spending time on her grandparents’ Massachusetts farm, she’s felt an affinity for animals. Today Shachmut pays homage to the gentle bovine spirit with her numerous calf, cow, and bull portraits, exploring the endlessly diverse ways light can highlight each and their individual personalities.

Carol Swinney, A Catalina Evening, oil, 12 x 24.

Although she spent most of her life working in other fields, Cynthia Spruill now devotes herself fully to painting. She loves the challenge of drawing the figure from life and paints a number of portraits, as well as still lifes that suggest the profound beauty found in even the simplest of nature’s fruits and flowers.

Studio and plein-air artist Susiehyer explores a wide variety of subject matter, from landscapes to still lifes, in impressionistic renderings. She travels to new places every year to paint and finds that painting on location allows her to truly integrate with the environment and capture its essence more fully. She paints Colorado mountains and urbanscapes as well as the tropics, and especially enjoys winter nocturnes.

Eschewing the brush for a palette knife, Wyoming artist Carol Swinney prefers to work on location in places such as Rocky Mountain National Park and Grand Teton National Park to create her mountainscapes. She enjoys “sculpting” paint with her knife to provide depth and richness. She also creates desert and coastal 

Texas painter Cecy Turner is as adept at distilling the essence of the West—from the Rockies to the deserts of the Southwest to the western seaboard—as she is at moving between mediums and subject matter. She paints in watercolors and oils and creates still lifes, florals, and architectural compositions along with her western landscapes. —Laura Rintala

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