What initially captured your imagination about the medium you use? A long time ago I saw Winslow Homer’s art and fell in love with it. I became determined to learn the art of watercolor. I love how it flows and the look of it. I travel a bit and watercolor is so easy to carry along; I will paint a watercolor scene in my travel journal while in a restaurant or out on a hike.
My second medium is oil. I love the feel of moving the paint around, the richness of it, easy blending…and unlike watercolor it has more forgiveness. I choose between the mediums based on time and the look I want to convey.
I do use some Acrylic and also use glass paint. I would not say these are my main mediums.
What types of things inspire you to create art? Lighting is the first thing that grabs my attention. Returning to Wisconsin after being gone for over 25 years (21 years in Arizona); I cannot get enough of the countryside scenery including farm buildings and all their angles. Seeing the old barns, triggers such a nostalgia and respect for those who came before us and built these. Water scenes, wildlife, horses and dogs tend to be in a lot of my paintings, as well.
What life experiences have helped to shape you as an artist? Growing up on a farm, helping in the fields has given me a respect for the land as well as the power that mother nature holds, which influences my choice of subject. Much of my childhood was spent seeing nature from the back of a horse; camping and traveling across the nation as a travel nurse further reinforced my love for nature and wildlife. My artistic sister, LuAnn Widergren and I have painted countless hours together and share ideas regarding art. We arrange plein air (painting outdoors) painting time together in Florida (where she lives now) and in Wisconsin. In the past 5 years, I’ve had the benefit and support of painting in a Janesville painting group led by Jack Zellner. In the last two years I have attended some intense workshops by internationally known plein air artists: these have helped me improve my skills as an artist significantly. Each plein air evet I am in, has enriched my life and furthered my skill set.
Tell us about your creative process, from the beginning of a typical piece to its completion. I will photograph a scene; best practice is to paint it immediately while I still have an emotional connection: on site preferably. Being outdoors pushes me to really see the values and colors. I have been told, that our eyes capture 30x more color shifts and values than a camera. I sketch out several compositions quickly. If I am well behaved and smart, laughing, I do a value study (light, medium and darks) on a separate canvas or paper. This provides a road map to my painting. If these values and composition are right, it goes a long way to making a successful painting. It is way less painful to take the time to get the foundation of the painting right before advancing too far and trying to save later. Many times, I will have to do some minor adjusting of the plein air painting in the studio, or I use it like a study and create another work. Just a side note; a belief, soap box item perhaps, 99% of the time I only paint scenes that I have experienced because the piece of art is much more powerful, more heart and soul if you may. When I am doing pet portraits it is best if I can meet the animal I am painting but many times this is not possible, because of distance or passing of the animal.
What plans do you have for the future direction of your art? Currently I am taking a “sabbatical” from nursing to dedicate myself to getting “brush mileage” and opportunity to compete in plein air events. Watercolor and oil will continue to be my mediums of choice. Also, online competition will be an avenue I pursue. Illustrating is another interest of mine, I am working on a few children’s books but it has taken a back seat for now; perhaps in the dead of winter. If an opportunity presents itself, I would like to teach others to paint and draw. Creating is so therapeutic. I love my constant therapy….smile.