11-30-2020: We see the best moments when out on the road, it seems. I saw the sunlight hit this field on a stormy day and snapped a photo. It was blurry and distorted, as I didn’t even slow down to snap the pic. Memory, however, is where the pictures really live. This was East of Horicon Marsh.
11-14-2020: Today I spent a great deal of time framing my largest and most significant piece in a LONG time. This 20” x 48” piece showcases Waushara County’s four seasons in one scene. I used oils for this, using them much like one uses water colors for most of the painting. It was designed to have a narrow (1”) white oak frame that angles at 10-degrees to the outside. It was painted with a dark wall, between two built in book shelves in mind—hence its light color palate. As I built the frame, I had a notion to echo the purples in the winter sky, and added a bead of purple heart wood to the frame.
THE PRESS RELEASE: Penllyn Studio, the art studio of Gary Thompson, will host an Open Studio on November 21, from 10 am to 5 pm. The studio is located at W9163 County Road C, about three miles West of Wautoma.
Thompson will also display works by Diann Rohde, a Wautoma pottery artist, and Mount Morris’ Lucinda Marks, a children’s book author and illustrator. All three will be in the studio for some or all of the day.
“We had hoped to sponsor a large event this earlier this year, but could not,” says Thompson. “Instead, this small-scale Open Studio will be a great way to meet our community and to develop relationships with area businesses.”
Penllyn Studio is a working art studio that creates fine art and illustrations for children’s stories. The studio also works with authors to publish short stories for sale through their “Penllyn Shorties” vending machine.
“Our mission is ‘Art, Illustration, Inspiration’,” says Thompson. “We hope to inspire both visually and with the written arts. Whatever media is needed to convey the message.”
Thompson is an artist, illustrator and documentary producer. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Seton Hall University. He wrote and co-produced “Dawn of the Red Arrow”, a full-length film tracing the 32nd Division in World War I. “Their story is immense, and had to be told in the first person,” Thompson says.
He is currently in final production of illustrating and producing his second children’s book, “Timid Jimmy”, written by Katherine Pettus. “Its a project that I’ve been working for a long time. We are almost ready to ‘hit print’,” he says.
When not illustrating, Thompson works in acrylics, oils, and water colors, to capture scenes from around our community. “The Waushara county landscape is my muse, these days,” says Thompson. “It’s rolling hills and forty shades of green are enough to keep me busy for a long while.”
Visit the studio from 10am to 5pm, November 21st at W9163 County Road C, about three miles West of downtown Wautoma.
This massive work was designed for a dark wall between two built-in bookshelves. That is why the color palatte is muted and light in this piece. This is my first large oil work in a very long time. I used a series of washes in much the same way one uses water colors—building shades and tones. Then I built on those baselines with more and more definition and color. Also, this is a first for me in using the “windows” in this manner. I was going to call this piece “Eighth Day”. However, if you count the number of days represented, there are nine. I have to find a new title. Oh, the humanity! Completed November 7, 2020. I will be framing this in a quarter sawn white oak that is inset with a 1/8” strip of purple heart. This will be rubbed with oil and left natural. Special thanks to my son, Dylan, who assisted with the frame making today. It was great working in the shop together and not worrying about the world around us for a while.
Another moonrise piece from a warm summer evening earlier this summer. Take the time to sit beneath the stars. Let your eyes adjust. See the colors. By the way, that is Jupiter and Saturn appearing there above the trees. For all its faults, 2020 has been a great year for night skies.
Just playing with skies again… (Now to get a bit philosophical about this piece…) I now have this hanging on the studio wall. It is my practice to spend a long time looking at works I think are “finished” and think about them— their design elements, their color balances and contrasts, and how the space is consumed. As I consider this one, I am enjoying how there is a vast emptiness above the clouds. I hope this allows the space room to breathe. Rather than forcing the eyes to the sunset, they are moved outward toward the vast goodness of our world. This is the opposite of our human nature that constantly looks inward, as the Rev. Dr. Richard Shuta would say. Thoughts?
Again, the things I see when out driving are often the subjects for things I paint. In this case, the sun was setting with an entire farm in shadow. I wanted to stop and take a picture to work from, but had to settle for a brain-pic. Sometimes it is inspiration and other times it is to try new techniques (to me). I have oft said that process determines product. Here I worked a few new processes into the product and found myself happy with the results. That said, for all of the “strange” that 2020 has wrought upon us, we have had a stunningly beautiful summer here in Wisconsin, with countless sunsets like this one.
When the sun is setting, look to the East. Sometimes the most spectacular skies happen away from the direct glare of the sun. Sometimes. This was the scene from our back porch, 10 August 2020. I did this piece for my bride and to showcase her garden. It is a 10” x 16.25” acrylic on canvas panel. I have joked that “if the devil is in the details, he ain’t in me.” Not so much for this piece. While the plant life is really only suggested in this painting, each plant was painted individually. I spent the better part of two working days on a small, 2” x 3” section, just to get the feel right. By the way: the far building is the studio. Drop on by if you’re in the area.
I spent some time driving around Waushara County recently on a beautiful summer evening. I rounded a bend on County Highway F just East of Spring Lake, WI and found this scene. It was only after spotting this lovely view that I realized I’ve painted this farm before, from a different angle. I am considering making this into a greeting card, sending it to the owner, and thanking them for keeping such a lovely place.
So I used this scene to experiment with using my acrylics as water colors for the first layers of color. I then used a great deal of wet-brush techniques to move shades of green and blue around to get a “softer” feel. I have a couple of larger pieces I’ll be doing for some of my favorite customers and I want to use these techniques on a larger scale. It was a good, small scale experiment to get a feel for the processes I’ll be using.
Planting Time, #waushara County, Acrylic, 14” x 24” canvas on wood panel. I spent a couple of weeks poking at this piece, balancing the roughness of the earth with the smoothness of the sky.
Dark Matter is the subject of much speculation on the part of physicists around the world. It was first posited because without it, many formulae fall apart and the universe, as we understand it, could not exist.
I was working on this piece while Dr. Walter Pettus, one such physicist, was sharing my studio space for writing. I turned to him and he was thoughtfully looking out the window. “Writer’s block,” I said. “Try this line—‘Dark matter doesn’t exist’”.
As I juxtaposed that conversation with my overarching understanding that “art is the manifestation of philosophy”, I realized I’d stumbled onto a decent title. Everything about this piece is based on the unseen hand in our universe. The dimensions are based the “Golden Ratio”, one of those numbers in the universe that “just works”. The Fibonacci spiral stems from this ratio and was the first thing I drew when I started this work. From that I plotted the design to flow with and around the spiral. Perhaps you can “see” it for yourself, beginning in the lower right corner, arcing across the ground and trees, flowing into the clouds and curving back to a point in the open space.
I left hints at space division in lines and a small box of the same proportion. I have been working this way for about 35 years now— and it reflects my belief that the “Heavens declare the glory of God,” and we see it in the natural beauty of our world, and in the order and structure of the of the universe.
Holy Week, 2020– So, when someone says, “can you do this one”, sometimes I actually start painting. In this case, the “client” is someone I have known my entire life. Also, I was intrigued by the clouds and the color scheme challenges, with so much crimson and violet in the foreground.
I have been to Hawaii a few times and was struck by two things— the vibrancy of colors as contrasted with clouds, and the floral aroma the permeates the island. I hope that I was able to capture one of those two elements here, and to strike the memory of the other.
I chose to frame this in a natural, oil rubbed, rough cut cherry frame. As I was once told by my mentor Dr. Ken Schmidt, the frame becomes a part of the art. And so, I make all of my frames to suit each piece.
This scene is one of my favorite rural landscapes of Waushara County. You can find it on County Road JJ, south of Richford, WI. I first spotted it a few years back when I was still working in Madison and commuting from my home near Wautoma. Last spring I drove it frequently as I visited the Amish carpenter who was building our kitchen cabinets. (Shout out to Pine Grove Woodworking… David Jr. you’re the best.). When I start a painting I always have a “gridwork” in mind for them. Sometimes they get added, sometimes they are only guidelines for me to use in planning the layout. This piece required their “presence” to be made known.
As I said to some of the visitors to my booth last summer at the Waupaca Art Fest, on the very simplest terms, they provide balance and stability to my design work. They allow me to carry earth tones into skies and visa versa. They let me break the rules while respecting their dominance.
In broader terms, they are a clear manifestation of my understanding of what art is— the manifestation of philosophy. I’ll let you chew on that one for a bit.
Driving home from my grandson’s birthday party in February, this was the sunset scene I encountered. It was bitter cold and the heat in my truck was (is) not working. But when I saw this, I stopped, snapped a photo and let it permeate my memory. I started painting this the next day.
A new thought—trying to capture the rays of sun that blast a winter day with toomuchlight. Near Spring Lake, WI. Winter is an amazing time of year here, near the 44th paralell. The angles of the sun, the boldness of the colors at sunrise and sunset, and the wash of light that happens at midday when there are few clouds in play.
G. K. Chesterton, or “Cheeky Chet” as we call him around our house, is a favorite of ours. His wit and wisdom are cracking smart and almost always hit the mark.
My bride and I saw this lovely scene from our deck one evening last fall. The dead trees you see silhouetted are the home of pileated woodpeckers who laugh at us most days. This piece has quite a bit of nuance to it in the original with subtle hints of greens and blues in the shadows. The star toward the top of this piece is Arcturus. This piece recently sold to a client and friend here in Wautoma. He picked up this and the next piece I’ll post—another night scene.
Moonrise was an instant favorite of my bride and became our Christmas card last year (2019). It joined the previously posted painting “Message in the Cloud” at the home of a Wautoma client. This scene was taken from a daytime photo of a lovely farm off Hwy 21 West of Omro, WI. I used the pic to place the details of the painting and imagined the night scene. I love seeing rainbow effects around a full moon. If you’ve never seen it, you need to get out of the city more often. (I’m talking to you, Cinque!) The star near the moon in this pic is Antares.