Zooming In

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

There are many different ways of catching the viewer’s eye. In painting, obviously, subject matter, color choices and brushstroke all work to render a work more or less interesting. But composition is just as, or even more important to a painting’s success.

Watching Over You 19" x 30" watercolor on paper
by Patricia Hunter
Some artists use a close-up technique in their compositions. Instead of trying to get a lot of information in their painting, they zoom in to an area of interest. You can appreciate this technique in Patricia Hunter’s work, especially her images of exotic animals. When she started painting these animals a while ago, she decided that she didn’t want to do typical animal portraits; she wanted to show something real in an abstract way.

“By painting close-ups of the animals, I can achieve a different kind of composition, and focus on design and texture,” she said. “This technique also enables me to include considerable details in the work, such as the animals’ hair and whiskers.” By the way, Patricia is a watercolor painter, which makes her technique even more amazing to me!

Family Gathering 22" x 30", watercolor on paper
by Patricia Hunter

Walk With Me 8.25" x 10.25"
watercolor on paper
by Patricia Hunter
Although we can discern the two zebras in “Watching Over You,” this painting has a definite abstract quality, and the patterns and shapes of the zebras’ stripes could easily be a textile design. “Family Gathering” has the same compositional style: we know there are several giraffes portrayed, yet the main interest is in the patterns of their interesting hides.

Downtime 18.5" x 24" watercolor on paper
by Patricia Hunter

Lately, Patricia has been focusing more on domestic animals. Her dog, Sunny, appears in “Downtime” and “Walk with Me.” Although they are realistic impressions of the subject, you can see Patricia’s interest in pattern by the way she paints the details of her dog’s coat.

Moo Bull 5" x 5" oil on canvas
by Sheridan Brown
Sheridan Brown likes to zoom in on her subjects’ eyes. “They have an expressive quality that I want to convey in the painting,” she said. Like many Wilde Meyer artists, Sheridan’s subjects frequently have fur and four legs. Often, they’ve met at the local dog park! Sheridan likes to combine an abstract background with her close-ups. Many of her paintings are small sizes and have a loose, painterly style.

Bright Eyes 6" x 6" oil on canvas
by Sheridan Brown

In “Moo Bull” the background and the subject are equally arresting, but the way she pulls the colors together make this 5”X5” painting work.

Anticipation 24" x 24" oil on canvas
by Sheridan Brown

“Bright Eyes” is another example of how Sheridan unites an interesting abstract background with the focal point – the cat’s face and eyes. In “Anticipation,” the colors of the dog’s ear and mouth reflect the floral pattern in the rug.
Background design is not of great interest to Stephano Sutherlin, except to offset his subject. His dog portraits speak to the viewer – literally. They have catchy titles, like “Do I Amuse You?” and “Can I Go, Can I?”. He zooms in on their faces - which take up most of the square canvas - and somehow gets an expression that has a human quality. His bold use of color makes the paintings pop – we really can’t ignore them!

Do I Amuse You? 24" x 24"
by Stephano
acrylic on canvas

Can I Go, Can I? 24" x 24" acrylic on canvas
by Stephano

I Dare You To Lift Your Leg 40" x 16"
acrylic on canvas
by Stephano

Stephano generally favors a square format, but his choice of a narrow 40”X16” canvas for his painting “I Dare You to Lift Your Leg” pushes the cat and the fire hydrant into a tight frame. Are they actually having a conversation? It kind of looks that way!

Bedroom Eyes 9.5" x 9.5" oil on canvas
by Sarah Webber
Sarah Webber also likes a close-up perspective. She says she has an “intense” personality, so zooming in to a subject appeals to her. By getting “in the face” of the animals she paints, she can give them a personality of their own, and often with humor.

For example, the owl she portrays in “Bedroom Eyes” has a “come hither” look! The rest of his face and chest are painted in a loose colorful way, so the eyes are all the more riveting.

A Room with a View 21.5" x 21.5" oil on canvas
by Sarah Webber
Pig in the Straw 19" x 22.5"
 oil on canvas
by Sarah Webber
In “A Room with a View,” we see the humor in the donkey peering out from his stall. By painting the cropped image of his head and the stall opening, Sarah conveys the situation this fellow finds himself in. “Pig in the Straw” attracts my attention because the pig’s head and upper body are portrayed in such a painterly way, with a beautiful shadow cast on the straw. I don’t think any of these paintings would be nearly as interesting if they were ordinary views of the animals.

I guess you could say that close-up views are the painter’s way of making the ordinary into art!

You can see more by Sarah Webber, Stephano, Sheridan Brown and Patricia Hunter at www.wildemeyer.com.

A Fresh Outlook

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

In French, there’s a saying, “changer les idées,” which could be translated literally to mean changing ideas, but what it really means is doing something different – leaving your usual environment – to get a fresh outlook on things.

House in Vinales by Judy Feldman
House in Vinales 24" x 36"
by Judy Feldman
Just recently, I was able to “changer les idées” by taking an eight-day trip to Cuba. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit, since I lived in South Florida, where so much of the Miami culture is Cuban. Also, I was intrigued that a country so close to us could be so different and somewhat forbidden. I went with a group that had a “people to people” permit and an interest in nature. We traveled over about two thirds of the country, and often, I felt that I was in a different time – namely the 50s. (The cars are amazing!)

Playa Largo beach house
Leaving one’s usual environment is good for an artist. We get to see new things and think about how they can translate to our art. I was so impressed with the lush beauty of Cuba, its simple, even retro lodgings.

the colorful, small houses:
Vinales house
 and amazing people who enjoy their music and art so much:

I’ve finished one painting inspired by my trip, "House in Vinales," shown at the top of this post. Working on it brought back memories of these travels and the visual sensory feast I enjoyed.

Bill Colt, another Wilde Meyer artist, also has been inspired by Cuba. Bill’s passion is cars, and I think he also found his visual feast there. I’ll quote him: “It's all about the cars. They say the best auto mechanics in the world are in Cuba because they have to keep 50 year old cars running with virtually no parts.”

The Island City by Bill Colt
The Island City 24" x 36"
by Bill Colt
See more art by Judy Feldman and Bill Colt at Wilde Meyer Gallery.

The Art of a Smile

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

Since visual art is a means of personal expression, it’s not surprising that some paintings or sculptures convey a sense of humor. Those of us who see the world in a lighthearted way tend to have that vision when creating art. And, today, we have much more freedom to “tell” a story the way we want to, than say, Rembrandt or Vermeer who were pretty constrained by the artistic styles that were in vogue at that time. (Do you think Rembrandt had a sense of humor??)

The Wilde Meyer artists who embrace humor in art seem to have one thing in common: they frequently portray animals. Let’s see why…

BFFs 24"x30" oil on canvas
by Connie Townsend
Connie Townsend translates the humor she sees in life to her paintings. Even though most of her work focuses on dogs, the joy and hilarity she conveys could certainly apply to humans. But it’s so much funnier with dogs! For example, in her painting entitled “BFFs,” the two dogs riding a motorcycle – one in the side car – are having a blast together, tongues hanging out, ears flying and totally focused on their exhilarating ride. You can’t help but smile at a scene like that.

Labra Duo 24"x30" oil on canvas
by Connie Townsend
New Yorkie 24"x16"
by Connie Townsend
Her titles capture her sense of humor as well. In “Labra Duo,” two Labradors are hanging out the windows of an old Cadillac. Look closely, and you’ll see their white and black tails crossing each other. “New Yorkie” is another one of Connie’s funny takes on dogs-who-could-be-humans. The Yorkie is all dolled up with a bow in her hair – she could be a New York City dog, or maybe a New Yorker…

Despite her humorous approach, Connie has a very painterly technique, and her vigorous brush strokes and bright colors give the works the energy needed for her lighthearted style.
Strong color is another way of expressing upbeat emotions. Sue Goldsand produces fused glass sculptures of animals in a whimsical style. The bright hues and funny expressions on her characters’ faces definitely evoke a smile, if not a laugh.
Tweets, fused glass scultpure
by Sue Goldsand

“Blue Standing Dog” is another example of Sue’s humor, with its cool glasses, wagging tongue and bright red heart (in a strange place).
Blue Standing Dog, fused glass sculpture
by Sue Goldsand

Bailey, cast bronze scultpure
by Jim Budish 
Jim Budish’s bronze sculptures don’t have color for expression, but his stylized animals with their elongated legs bring a sense of humor to his work. Jim says "I try to create a smile through my sculpture by reaching into my subject, attempting to capture the ‘Joie De Vivre’ that I believe is somewhere inside all of us.”

Jim captures the essence of his subject’s spirit, emotion, attitude and personality. His rabbits’ long necks and large ears represent a species that we know, but are just a little funnier than they are in life. He references relatives and friends when he names his sculptures. “Abbey” is named for his granddaughter, and “Bailey” represents a friend’s dog.
Abby, cast bronze scultpure
by Jim Budish 
Like Your Hair 24"x24" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula
Hula Hoop Takes the Stage 12"x12"
by Trevor Mikula
Humor is the essence of Trevor Mikula’s paintings. Sometimes, it’s just the title: “Like Your Hair,” referring to a leafy plant, or the “Argyle Chicken” strutting on a diamond-patterned floor. Trevor says he gets his ideas from friends, who suggest a quirky take on something they see. Using his own imagination, vibrant colors and textured paint application with a palette knife, Trevor creates whimsical characters that are joyful and funny. “Hula Hoop Takes the Stage” is a great example of Trevor-style humor.

Argyle Chicken 24"x24" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula
We enjoy looking at art for many reasons, some more intellectual than others. But getting a smile or even a good laugh is certainly one we can all appreciate!

See more at www.wildemeyer.com.

The Style of Style

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

We often talk about an artist’s style – the way he or she paints that’s easily identifiable. That can apply to realism, abstraction and anything in between. There’s also stylized painting – a technique whereby the artist depicts an image in a unique way – presenting subject matter, forms and color choices that are very distinctive.

The Wilde Meyer artists I spoke to all said that they want to take the viewer beyond the subject by eliminating certain details and adding their own artistic marks.

Loire Valley 35.5" x 35.5" oil on canvas
by Rena Vandewater
Pear Tree 19" x 25" oil on canvas 
by Rena Vandewater
For example, Rena Vandewater, an artist from Idaho, paints scenes from places she has visited, and although some of the elements are identifiable, much of the paintings are about her artistry. As you can see in “Loire Valley,” the chateaux are there, but the orange hills and vibrant green trees are definitely Rena’s invention.

“I work very intuitively,” she explains. “The painting talks to me the whole time I’m working on it. The patterns and shapes evolve in the process, and although I see the image as a whole, each space has a life of its own.”

Rena discovered that the lines and dots of her patterned areas give the paintings a 3-D effect. “By using this technique and vibrant colors I can add movement to the painting.” This 3-D aspect is evident in “Pear Tree,” which also reflects her love of quilts and textiles.

Jaime Ellsworth and companions
Sometimes, stylized painting removes details, focusing more on shapes and color. The work of artists Jaime Ellsworth and Robert Burt fall into this approach. Jaime calls herself a “shape artist” who likes to keep her art “on the lighter side.” She doesn’t work from photos – just “what comes out of my head” – but I think she’s inspired by her family of 4-legged pets, including dogs, a goat and miniature horses. As you can see in her painting entitled “Scent,” she knows just what dogs do when they get together! (Jaime probably gets a lot of laughs from her animals. I just can’t resist including this photo she sent me of a typical car ride for her.)

Scent 24" x 36" acrylic on canvas
by Jaime Ellsworth
 “Waterbowl” is a great example of Jaime’s skill with shape and color. There are basically three shapes in this 30X40 painting – all the details are distilled away, and we can just enjoy the beautiful hues and forms.

Waterbowl 30" x 40" acrylic on canvas
by Jaime Ellsworth
Robert Burt also eliminates most particulars in his lushly colored paintings. He paints what he sees around his home in Mexico, where he lives for part of the year, and in his travels.

Bell Tower 12" x 12" acrylic on canvas
by Robert Burt
“I don’t want to distract the viewer with details, since I think that can be stressful,” he says. “Colors and shapes are more important to me.  I’m trying to tell a story and bring the viewer into my painting. Sometimes, you don’t need a door or a window to know it’s a building.”

She Hears Something 30" x 24" acrylic on canvas
by Robert Burt
You can see Robert’s beautiful simplicity in “Bell Tower.” His use of basic shapes and complimentary colors gives us all the facts we need, and we can just enjoy looking at the small church. Shadow and light also are important elements in his stylized work, as in “She Hears Something” and “Fast Friends.”

Fast Friends 12" x 12" acrylic on canvas
by Robert Burt
Sushe Felix is interested in the natural world of plants and animals. Her stylized work reflects her interest in the American Abstract painters from the 1930’s and 40’s, and modernist painting. She strives to achieve a balance between detail and simplification and uses areas of layered vibrant color.

Quiet Waters 28" x 27.5" acrylic on panel
by Sushe Felix
At first, I thought her work had a folk art quality, but on further inspection, I think it’s much more sophisticated. “Quiet Waters” has all the elements of a southwestern landscape, but its brilliant hues and abstracted shapes (the clouds are so art deco!) make this painting much more interesting.

Cloudburst 21" x 28" acrylic on panel
by Sushe Felix
Other examples of her unique style include “Cloudburst” and “Yellow Headed Blackbird.” In her artist’s statement, Sushe says “I strive to create an orderly composition of both geometric and organic form. Movement is achieved by repeating forms, shapes, and differing directions of line. In essence, I am striving to find new and different ways in which to depict the natural rhythms of life and nature.”

The next time you see a painting that looks “stylized,” just remember that it’s the artist’s unique way of communicating his or her vision of the world!

Yellow Headed Blackbird 21" x 15" acrylic on panel
by Sushe Felix

Wilde (Meyer) Horses

By Judy Feldman | www.wildemeyer.com

Most figurative artists tend to have favorite subjects to portray, whether it’s people, still life, landscapes or animals. When the horse is the focus, it’s pretty certain that the artist who created that painting is an equine lover and a rider.

Chaille's grandfather, Ed Tweed, with his imported champion stallion *Orzel
(Photo courtesy of Chaille Trevor.)
It seems that the most beautiful horse paintings are done by people who are really passionate about these animals. They ride all the time and know their horses so well, that they can really show their spirit and even their soul – just look at the eyes, and you will see an amazing sensitivity.

Chaille astride the champion Arabian stallion
Brusally Gwiazdor, at the gates of Brusally Ranch. 
(Photo courtesy of Chaille Trevor.)
After the Ride by Chaille Trevor
Chaille Trevor is equally committed to her horses and her art. She divides her time between riding and painting. Chaille has a unique lineage in the horse world – her grandfather owned Brusally Ranch and was a major breeder of Arabian horses. He also was the creator, along with Anne McCormick and Philip Wrigley, of the well–known Scottsdale Arabian Horse show that will have its 58th annual show this February at West World.

“My grandfather imported 26 Arabian horses from Poland, and I still have some horses from that breeding,” Chaille said.

Chaille with some of her grandfather's imported Arabian mares.
(Photo courtesy of Chaille Trevor.)
After getting an art degree at ASU, Chaille’s grandfather invited her to live and work at his ranch. She stayed there for 17 years, training and showing his horses. When I spoke to Chaille, I really felt that she has a deep connection to her horses. This special affinity is what gives her paintings their grace and energy. “Love,” a 36”x48” painting that was recently featured in Phoenix Home & Garden, depicts the close bond between a mare named Panatela and her little niece, Tess.

Love 36"x48" oil on canvas
by Chaille Trevor

Chaille's beloved mare Brusally Orzyna
(Photo by Heather Buttrum www.heatherbuttrum.com.)
Chaille’s paintings could be interpreted as a metaphor of the relationship between a horse and its rider. “If a horse trusts his rider, the two become as one, with the horse always willing to please,” she explained. “As an avid rider, I know my horses’ movements – as well as their faces and bodies -  and I try to portray that in my paintings.”

Free Spirits 12"x24" oil on canvas
by Chaille Trevor
Movement and energy are the themes in “Free Spirit,” The position of the horses’ legs, the way they hold their heads, and the dust kicked up defy the static limits of a painting, and they seem to come right towards the viewer.

A Gentle Life  30" x 24" oil on canvas
by Chaille Trevor

Chaille’s paintings have a sketch quality to them. She feels that technique enables her to “go deeper and deeper to get closer to what you feel about the subject and to express yourself.” “High Spirits” is a good example of this style. But I have to say that my favorite painting is “A Gentle Life.” When I look at this horse’s beautiful head with its soulful eye and delicate muzzle, I just want to wrap my arms around it. Chaille has spoken of her love for this horse to me through this painting.

His Prize 36"x48" oil on canvas
by Chaille Trevor

A Place of Peace 24"x30" oil on canvas
by Chaille Trevor

Wild Spirit 48"x72" oil on canvas
by Chaille Trevor
If you happen to be at the Wilde Meyer Gallery in Tucson, ask to speak to Betty Wilde. She’s a devoted horse lover, and would love to speak to you about the Wilde (Meyer) horses!

Thanks to Tobi Lopez Taylor of Coronado Ranch Sport Horses for contributing photos and information to this post.  Follow Brusally Ranch Appreciation Society on Facebook where you can learn a lot more about  Ed Tweed's contributions to Domestic, Polish, and Russian Arabian horse breeding. A book about Chaille's family's Arabian horse breeding program will be published by Screenfold Press in 2013. Titled The Polish and Russian Arabians of Ed Tweed's Brusally Ranch, by Tobi Lopez Taylor, the book presents a history of the ranch and discusses Tweed's 27 imported horses individually. Each chapter features a four-generation pedigree, historic photographs, extracts from documents in the Brusally Ranch archives, and an annotated list of offspring. The book will be available through Amazon.com.

Please visit www.wildemeyer.com to see more of Chaille's paintings.