by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Bend’s artistic community has recently gained the renowned master pastelist, Gil Dellinger. Drawn to the Central Oregon landscape, Dellinger is looking forward to the change in perspective and the challenge of a new adventure.
Dellinger has a passion for nature’s beauty and has spent years painting the landscapes of his home state – California. Yosemite has been a frequent muse and his work Sheer Elegance has recently been published on the front cover of the 2013 fine art book, Art of the National Parks.
Dellinger’s skill with the brush has made him a very successful artist in the U.S. and around the world. Several honors have included an invitation to paint at the Forbes Chateau in Balleroy, France, a feature in the January 1997 issue of American Artist Magazine and an opportunity to raft and paint in the Grand Canyon with a subsequent exhibit in New York City.
When asked how Central Oregon compares to the monolithic granite beauty of the Sierras, he said, “It’s so breathtaking here. I’m just captivated….and frankly I like it better than Yosemite. Yosemite is so stylized; it has so many icons. I think that’s why [the publishers] picked that un-iconic view for the cover of Art of the National Parks, it’s not just another painting of Half Dome.”
Dellinger’s artistic career began during college at San Francisco State. While he started his studies as a sculpture major, a general-ed course in drawing shifted his focus to the two-dimensional world. “I was always creative, but didn’t have any training before college,” he explained. He left school for a while to embrace his hippy nature – making and selling jewelry in Sausalito, California before returned to the classroom to get his bachelors and masters in fine art.
Soon after school he found himself working as a preparator for The Haggin Museum in Stockton, California. The Haggin’s collections contain many renowned 19th and early 20th-century American and European artists including one of Yosemite’s iconic painters, Albert Bierstadt. “It’s a fabulous small museum with lots of landscape paintings [including] people who painted throughout the Sierras. I got turned onto landscape painting there.”
Following his time at the museum, Dellinger immersed himself in the world of teaching. For the next 30 years he instructed over 3,000 students in drawing and painting at the University of the Pacific. “I loved it …most of the time [the students] didn’t know they could draw…and it changes the way they perceive things.”
His teaching regime included required studio time, sometimes 30 hour weeks on top of his classes. While he admitted the schedule could be exhausting, it forced him to draw all the time and helped improve his skill. “Sometimes I didn’t have anything left to give to my work…but I love to give something to people who are interested in it.” He hopes to pursue teaching on the college level in Bend.
Dellinger is currently president of The Plein Air Painters of America and enjoys working outdoors. “I have an overwhelming kind of passionate relationship to God’s expression through nature,” he explained of his work. “I try not to be an aggressive religious painter, but show that God exists in the work. I think that beauty is an example of a hope that something exists beyond this.”
Dellinger spends much of his time traveling around the U.S. teaching workshops and has several scheduled for this year. In Bend he will instruct with the workshop series Art in the Mountains. His session, entitled Turning Plein Air Sketches into Finished Work is from August 4-8 (details at www.artinthemountains.com). “That’s how I discovered Bend,” he explained. “I taught for Art in the Mountains years ago and I fell in love with it the area.”
He has workshops scheduled at the Knowlton Gallery in California on March 28 and July 18 and in Wisconsin at the Madeline Island School for the Arts on October 13.
Dellinger is represented by Paul Scott Gallery in Bend and a variety of other galleries around the country. “We are excited to have him be a part of our gallery family and excited to see how he gets inspired by the local landscape,” commented Paul Scott Gallery Director Kim Matthews.
“It’s rather interesting to come to a place where I’m not known,” Dellinger mused. “I spent so many years building a reputation in the Central Valley. Here I know nobody, and I’m having to start all over again, but that’s an nice challenge. We wanted an adventure and we wanted to challenge ourselves, and try new things.
“If I had stayed where I was I would have spent all my time doing what I have always done and not challenging the edges of subject matter. I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains, and I think this place is so beautiful.”