Saturday, August 1, 2020

Patrick Saunders Fine Arts - 2020 Plein Air Driggs Judge

It was an honor to judge this year's Driggs Plein Air competition with Scott Jones, and I am greatly disappointed that I was unable to do so in person. I haven’t been to the area in a few years, and I was looking forward to not only viewing all of the work by other artists, but painting some of my own in such a beautiful part of the country.

Going through all of the work in the show made this desire to paint on site even greater. I’m inspired and eager to be a part of next year’s event. The best paintings not only work on a level of technical expertise, but tell a story about the artist’s personal experience with the landscape, and many of these works achieved that. So many in fact, that my responsibility as a judge was extremely difficult. I only wish we had twice as many awards. This is exactly what I strive for in my own work and what I look for when evaluating paintings in a show. Tell me your story, set a mood, invite me to explore, and the painting draws me in.


Congratulations to everyone who participated, even in this particularly difficult year where a new approach was required. As artists, your work is a constant reminder that the world is a wonderful place, even in times of hardship. 


Go to www.driggspleinair.org now to see the online gallery of great work available for sale.
 - Patrick Saunders


Best of Show
• David Marty • "Mustard Fields” • Oil • 8"x10"
Everything comes together perfectly in this painting to give us a story of the beauty, the expansiveness and the awesome power of the landscape.

We are immediately struck with the strong design of the foreground fields. The sharply controlled edges of the yellow suggest the influence of humanity. This is not a wild place, yet as we move up the painting, the brushstrokes become ever more spontaneous.

Once our eyes reach the sky, the chaotic impasto paint of the clouds suggest the unpredictability of nature, even in the face of the familiar fields. This juxtaposition creates a tension that keeps us moving through and exploring the scene.

Congratulations Marty on a fabulous painting. - Patrick Saunders


I find the foreground of the piece to be fascinating. Diagonals, colors, light and shadow is all complimented by a solid backdrop (with just the right amount of complimenting colors) and immense sky. The total package combined in one excellent plein air painting. - Scott Jones
Second Place
• Don Miskin • "String Lake” • Oil on Linen • 16"x20"
 This piece is beautifully executed overall, and the careful balance between the mountain and the line of trees particularly grabbed my attention. The wide variety of subtle greens throughout the foreground of the painting suggest a depth to the forest that is often overwhelmed and overlooked in paintings depicting breathtaking mountain views. Yet the mountain does not lose any of its importance.

The controlled use of value and color temperature changes in the mountain not only hold it together as the monolith that it is, but also add atmospheric depth to the image. The entire scene is tied together by the expert capture of the low sun cascading across the landscape. - Patrick Saunders

Third Place
• Benjamin Walter • "Canyon Glow” • Oil on Canvas • 9" x 12"
I enjoy the scale and atmosphere of this piece. The rear mountain peak and sky work so well together. And create a wonderful visual backdrop to the remainder of the painting. I feel that I am there -- looking up. – Scott Jones
Fourth Place - Plein Air Painters of Idaho Award
• Sherri Carter • "Pastoral Barn” • Oil on Linen Panel • 8" x 8"
The calm and quiet mood of this scene immediately emanates from this painting. While the execution appears simple and direct upon first viewing, if one looks closer, a very deliberate control of color, value and edges is revealed. The expert choice to break the boundaries of the window invites the viewer to explore the rest of the scene. - Patrick Saunders
Honorable Mention
• Allen Brockbank • "North of Town” • Oil on Panel • 8" x 16"
My artist friends know that I often focus my attention on the foreground of a painting. This painting starts so very strong in the foreground and then it compositionally takes you through the remainder of the piece and right back to its strength in the foreground. Good use of color that is not harsh or overdone. - Scott Jones
Honorable Mention
• Kerri Hammond, Kerri Hammond Fine Art • “Resilience" • Oil on Board • 6" x 8"
There is not a single unnecessary brush stroke in this painting, with each mark boldly applied to the surface of the canvas. This confidence in application transcends the paint medium and gives a sense of solidity to the heavy rocks and the single tree that dominate the composition.

When one moves past the rendered scene, there is an abstract beauty within the texture of every brushstroke, making this a painting not just about a representational landscape, but of the beauty of paint itself. - Patrick Saunders

Honorable Mention
• Trish Melander  • "Open Seating At the Rodeo” • Oil on Panel • 12" x 16"

Raw is the first word that comes to mind. Confident is the second. I can feel the heat of the sun. Not an easy day and light to paint this one. I have a hunch I would have learned something watching the artist paint this one. - Scott Jones

Honorable Mention
• Don Miskin • "River View” • Oil on Linen • 16" x 20"
There is a wonderful sense of depth to the piece, and as the viewer's eyes move backwards in space, one notices that while the saturation of colors decreases, the number of subtle color variations does not. This invites us to explore everything about the scene. This is not a painting about a mountain, trees or a stream, but rather the total package. - Patrick Saunders


© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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