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Plein Air Art Exhibit 2022

  • May 7 – June 18, 2022

West Plains Council on the Arts (WPCA) will host an exhibition of works by seven plein air artists  in the Gallery at the Center, West Plains Civic Center from May 7 through June 18, 2022. The Gallery, on the mezzanine, is open to the public during regular Civic Center hours.

“This will be our first exhibit exclusively featuring plein air pieces,” say organizers. “We are anxious to share their work with the community and hope to promote interest in the discipline.”

A Virtual tour has been uploaded.

About the Artists:

Kathe Altazan

Retiring from the Baxter County Library and a career as a graphic designer, Kathe Altazan returned to oil

painting full time in 2019. Her painting instruction began by taking classes during high school at The Art Institute of Chicago and earning an associate degree in fine art at South Suburban College in Illinois. She studied with online instructors and continues to learn at workshops, from online instruction, and  through podcasts.

As a recent daily painter and plein air enthusiast, Kathe primarily paints landscapes. She combines her love of the outdoors with painting the natural beauty of the Ozarks and her scenic US travels. Kathe has exhibited during 2021’s Art Odyssey and Plein Air on the White River Artists’ events. She has exhibited with the Area Art Club, and at the Love of Art Club’s annual shows.

“I am an oil painter who paints contemporary landscapes in a realistic, impressionistic style. A former graphic designer with a fine art education, I am a plein air enthusiast combining my love of nature with painting outdoors. In painting from life, one learns to appreciate the effects of light and depth of shadows in a scene and paint them convincingly.”

Lee Copen

Lee Copen lives and paints on a small farm in the Missouri Ozarks. Whether painting on location or in the studio her color and light filled paintings reflect her love of nature and the landscape.

“I have always been drawn to the diversity and beauty that landscape has to offer. Painting is absolutely my most favorite thing to do,” says Copen.  “I have been painting all my life and painting is simply how I like to spend my time. For me painting is capturing a fleeting moment of beauty and sharing what I see with others.”

“Plein air painting poses some unique challenges, that make it both fun and frustrating. Time is the first challenge; you only have a few hours of the same light to paint a scene. Weather conditions can play havoc with your best efforts. But ultimately, I love to be outdoors, so painting outdoors is a natural extension for me. When painting outside all your senses are involved in the experience and that shows in the artwork. All frustrations aside, painting outdoors is invaluable to one’s development as an artist.”

Lee Copen studied art at the University of Northern Colorado, graduating with a degree in fine art and an emphasis in graphic design. She worked as a sign painter, art director and graphic artist; eventually starting her own freelance business in Architectural Illustration, which she did for 15 years. In 2002 she became certified in K12 art education and has taught art at Liberty High School for the past 16 years. In addition to teaching, she is a fine artist. Her award-winning watercolor and oil on canvas paintings can be purchased online and at select galleries.

Janey Hale

Hale’s desire to create began when as a young child a women’s group brought an exhibition of old master’s paintings to her hometown of Hope, Arkansas. Teaching art for over twenty years, she is now focusing on painting full time. Hale has been in a number of juried and non-juried shows. Her work has been purchased by businesses and people in both Arkansas and Missouri.

Hale has benefitted from working with local artists and attending workshops of noted artists. Hale says, “Creating art is a means by which I record both emotional and visual experiences. The interaction of color, light and textures in combination with mark making appeals to my own aesthetic, which I hope gives something to the viewer.”

Hale paints her subjects representationally, dividing her time between the studio and plein air painting. She considers her style to be impressionistic and enjoys capturing her impressions of the world around her.

“The work I selected for this show is representative of things I paint because they evoke a memory, tell a story, or present a new challenge.  I paint what catches my eye.  It might be the way light falls across a building or the interesting textures created by the aging process on old farm equipment.  Ultimately, I hope the painting tells a story.”

Michael McClure

“The beauty of the natural world is a constant source of inspiration for me. Painting plein air, directly from life, lets me use all my senses to interpret what I see and feel,” says McClure. “My way of expressing my spiritual nature is through my art. Whatever is inside of me, you will see it out there in every brushstroke. I hope that my work will bring you joy when you look at it, just as it has brought me joy in creating it.”

McClure graduated with a fine arts degree from Stanford University in 1972, and began his career as a graphic designer, gradually going into book publication and illustration. During that time he started to take some painting workshops, and began to deepen his understanding of fine art. McClure’s work has won numerous awards in art competitions. It is found in both private and corporate collections internationally. He is a signature member of the National Oil and Acrylics Painters Society (NOAPS), and a member of Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters.

Rhonda Richter

Painterly expression and bold color characterize the art of Rhonda Richter. Paintings with emotional structure interpreted in direct connection with nature are the intention and joy of the artist.

In terms of artistic influence, an ongoing, profound, influence began simply: in high school, Richter was struck with a reproduction of Cezanne’s “Blue Vase” hanging in her West Plains, Missouri art class. Later, Richter credits her University of Missouri professor, Frank Stack, as inspirational for her artistic development, especially regarding color and gesture. At UMC, the Scholars Abroad program led to a period of travel and artistic exposure (throughout Europe and, eventually to Tunisia). 

 In 1983, Richter married a German man and lived abroad for ten years near Mainz and (later) Ulm. Richter studied painting at Johannes Gutenberg  University in Mainz, Germany. Richter now resides in West Plains, Missouri and frequently participates in Plein Air painting events. 

Richter taught art for 24 years until her retirement in 2019 from West Plains High School.

Richter’s recent awards include: 2018 First Place – Callaway Plein Air “Paint the Town”, 2019 – Callaway Plein Air “Hidden Gems”, 2020 – Second Place/ Steelville Plein Air, 2020 Third Place Siloam Springs Plein Air, 2021 Second Place: Steelville Plein Air, 2021 First Place/ Oil Painting: Harlin Museum Ozarks Multimedia Exhibit.

 “I prefer Plein Air painting, as opposed to studio work,” says Richter. “It is challenging and thrilling to navigate the ever-changing effects of light.  Plein Air organizations throughout Arkansas and Missouri have been a source of camaraderie and inspiration. Most organized Plein Air events take place in river towns: places like Louisiana, Steelville, Augusta and Portland, Missouri. Insider tips lead to great spots which otherwise would be very difficult to know about. And, from what I have recently experienced, with a little help from my friends, I am convinced I will never run out of satisfying vistas right here in Missouri!”

Joyce Stewart

Joyce Stewart and her husband of 57 years, David, operate a cattle farm, providing inspiration for some of her paintings. Stewart says she can barely remember a time in her life that she didn’t aspire to be an artist. She drew with whatever she had, on any surface that was available (margins of schoolbooks are not a good choice). Her high school art teacher inspired her to paint and draw from life whenever possible.

Painting outdoors, in plein air, is becoming more and more important for her in her quest to improve. A photograph cannot replace the experience of sitting on the bank of a creek observing firsthand the effect of the sun on the water and the trees and grasses, seeing how the shadows fall. Stewart says, “When painting outdoors your senses are involved in the hearing, seeing, smelling, and feel of the time and place. Back in the studio the small study done on location can help bring all that back into focus and is sometimes the catalyst to a larger painting done from the study, the photos taken and the memories. Plein air painting is becoming more and more important and precious to me as I feel it is the door to a better understanding of nature and the path to personal growth as an artist.”

Through the years she experimented with many different mediums – acrylics, watercolor, pastels, oil pastel, and charcoal. A few years ago, she attended a workshop using oil paints and felt like she had finally found herself. Stewart continues to expand her skills by attending workshops with other local artists, reads art books and views original art whenever and wherever it is available. Stewart has also worked online with artists Laura Robb, Phil Starke, Spencer Meagher, and more. Stewart’s work has been featured in local and regional shows and is in private collections in Missouri, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

“I have a driving need to create, and if I look a little distracted sometimes, it is probably because I am painting in my head, working out a solution to a painting problem, looking for the turn of a shadow on a face or just feeling the awe and the magnitude of the natural world around me,” Stewart said. “I love the feel of the paint moving across the canvas to give an impression of what I am seeing and feeling at the time. I especially like to do paintings that tell a bit of the story of the place or objects. I have always admired the work of the impressionists but tend to work in a more representational style. Becoming an artist is not a destination but a wonderful, fulfilling (and sometimes frustrating) journey!

“We would not be where we are today without the work and sacrifice of those who lived before us and blazed the trails for us. I have a love for the history, the stories, the places and lives they lived.”

Cindy Temple

Temple says, “I love to pack up my gouache paints when I’m in Mexico and paint the ocean, sandy beaches, flowers,  and surroundings. Something about being on vacation gives me the courage to venture out and paint every day. However, the truth is, Plein Air painting is very difficult for me, here at home. I struggle to focus and simplify my subject. Fact is, if it wasn’t for my dear artist friends, I’d likely not venture out at all, and I would most likely be content to paint from the security and comfort of my studio. I’m thankful for my friends who invite me and encourage me to come along on their excursions!

All but one of these paintings I chose to exhibit were painted among friends accompanied by laughs, heat/cold,  bugs, and messy paint. I treasure each one as it helps me to grow and become a better painter, and friend. There’s nothing like being surrounded by nature and good friends.”

After her mother passed and her grandchildren were both in school, she had a foot injury, and the house felt empty. She found her mind wandering and the need to be viable was overwhelming. Temple felt God lead her back to her original passion — art. As a little girl, growing up in Kansas City, Temple’s favorite pastime was riding a city bus down to Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where she would spend hours. She was intrigued by the beauty of the art and her imagination would run wild. She especially liked the portrait room, where she would sit in the middle of the room and invent her own story about each face.  Like most artists, as a child Temple’s gifts of choice were crayons, pencils, paint, and paper. She would draw on anything and enrolled in every art class offered in high school.

Temple continued as a self-taught artist throughout periods of her adult life, and mostly learned from books. Eventually, she took drawing classes from Audrey Bottrell and painting classes from Regina Willard. As her passion and skill grew, she found other professional artists she admired; and through classes studied with Derek Penix, Michael McClure, Kevin Beilfus, Anne Blair Brown, and Chantel Barber. Oil is her medium of choice and she is inspired by things she loves the most: family,  friends, people, and nature. Temple prefers to paint people or animals– things with eyes or a mother, she likes to say.  Her works have been exhibited in juried and non-juried shows in the area, winning several awards.

“I’m actively seeking to do better and learn new skills,” says Temple. “I enjoy painting, sharing ideas, and learning with other artists in our local art groups. Being a self-taught artist and learning as I go, breaking rules doesn’t seem to matter and has given me freedom to find my own style. Honestly, I believe all artists, educated or not, are all self-taught. We retain and choose what we want to learn. Subsequently, we go with our gut and what moves and stirs our souls.”

WPCA will host a Meet the Artists event on Saturday, May 14, from 2-4 p.m., in the Gallery at the Center. All are invited to attend, meet the artists, and discuss the pieces.  The exhibit is co-sponsored by the West Plains Civic Center and West Plains Council on the Arts, with partial funding provided by Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.