Developing a passion for plein air painting can happen at any point in an artist’s career. For Bend artist Shelly Wierzba, this occurred about six years ago. Painting on location fed her desire to constantly challenge herself to learn new ways to approach a painting and grow as an artist.
“Painting outdoors is enormously different from working in my studio. First I had to learn to deal with the heat and the cold, the wind, the buzzing things that are so annoying, as well as the changing appearance of shapes and colors due to the moving light. Also, painting in public places requires speaking to curious people who want to see what you are doing.”
Wierzba spent a lot of time matching the colors and shapes to what she saw in the landscape.
“Now I’m trying to do more expressing and less describing. There is an inner life to nature, more than what we see. We all feel that in different ways, and I’m trying to put that emotion onto the canvas. I have a strong faith in God and get excited about all of His creations.” Currently she is working on a series of barns which give her the opportunity to paint intriguing light patterns while documenting history and a sense of mystery.
“It seems all painters paint barns. I’ve avoided that until now, and have found it to be a very exciting subject. Not only am I challenged about how to fit the structure into a good design, but how to express its inner life. I participate in a September plein air competition in Roseburg, Oregon every year and one of the sites is a homestead that dates back to the early settlers. There are hundreds of acres with original buildings that inspire me to capture their character and their secrets. ”
Wierzba’s new work can be seen at the Red Chair Gallery in Bend.