Heber-based artist walks on the wild(life) side
Greg Wilson and Don Weller painting demonstration
5-8 p.m. on Friday, June 28
Montgomery-Lee Fine Art, 608 Main St.
Also: Artist reception for Greg Wilson and Don Weller exhibit
6-9 p.m. on Friday, July 5
Montgomery-Lee Fine Art, 608 Main St.
Heber-based wildlife painter Greg Wilson is honored to open a joint exhibit with fellow painter Don Weller at Montgomery-Lee Fine Art.
“Don is a great man,” Wilson said. “He is well respected in the community. So it means a lot to me to have an exhibit with him.”
The two artists will do painting demonstrations from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, June 28, and Weller will sign his new book, “Tracks, a Visual Memoir” that night as well.
The galley will then host an artist reception from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, July 5.
Wilson submitted 30 works for the exhibit.
Many of the works are small, six by nine-inch pieces of local animals that include owls, bobcats, mountain lions, mountain goats, deer, elk, moose and coyotes.
“I don’t usually sell my studies, but I had done so many over the years, and I felt they would be a good starting point for new collectors,” Wilson said.
Most of the studies are monochrome save for color in the eyes, and there are some works that are presented in full color, according to the artist.
“All of the animals I have drawn or painted are ones that I have had personal experiences with,” Wilson said.
That means the artist won’t paint it unless he has seen it in the wild.
“I take a camera with me when I go out, and the photography is a away of recording the experiences,” Wilson said. “I take a camera when I chase mountain goats at the top of Mt. Timpanogos, because it’s not practical for me to take my paints and sketchbooks.”
Wilson will take many photographs and pore through them when he gets home from an expedition.
“Unique gestures and the lighting are what catches my eye and inspires me to paint,” he said.
The photograph is only a starting point for the painting, according to Wilson.
“I just want to paint the animal, and then I’ll add my own background,” he said.
One of the most difficult parts of the process is drawing the subject of the photograph.
“If you get the drawing right, you can fill it with paint and it will look good, but if the drawing is messed up, it will remain messed up throughout the whole process,” Wilson said.
The most difficult animals to capture are predators like mountain lions and bobcats, he said.
“These animals are so elusive, and are mostly nocturnal,” Wilson said. “And that makes it difficult to find them.”
Once Wilson selects a photograph, he begins to paint.
“My go-to medium is oil on board,” he said. “I enjoy oil because of the texture and luminosity of the paint, but then you have to make sure the values are right, the colors and edges are good so they all work in harmony.”
Throughout his career, Wilson has realized that most visual artists’ styles differ from dancers and musicians.
“I realized dancers or musicians will spend more time practicing than performing,’ he said. “But visual artists, like me, feel like they have to paint perfectly every time they go into the studio. They feel they can’t make mistakes, and I think they sometimes get lost in that process and forget that they can practice. They can draw studies.”
Studies has helped Wilson with his bigger projects.
“Once I get an idea of what I want to create, I feel more free to interpret an image the way I want to,” he said.
Wilson’s fascination with the outdoors was influenced by his growing up in Telluride, Colorado.
“I lived there before the skiers came to town, so there wasn’t much to do,” he said. “We’d fish and chase animals, and then when I came home I would sketch and scribble.”
Wilson got into photography when he decided he wanted to become a wildlife artist.
“I knew that I would need to take my own images to use as references,” he said. “I mean, I would feel guilty if I painted from someone else’s photographs. I felt that would be cheating.”
Wilson taught himself how to draw and paint.
“I did go to college to become an art director, but all my training was done by myself,” he said.
Over the years, Wilson experimented with his color palette.
“I now only use three colors — Indian red, yellow ocher and ivory black, and I can mix those and get any color I want to use,” he said.
This palette was inspired by Swedish painter Anders Zorn.
“I was messing with it one day and fell in love with it,” Wilson said.
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