Take a trip into the abstract and landscape visions of Jeremy Russell 

Trove Gallery opens exhibit on Friday

Trove Gallery will introduce Jeremy Russell, a fine art painter based in Asheville, North Carolina, to Park City at an exhibit opening during the Park City Kimball Arts Festival weekend. Russell, who specializes in abstracts and landscapes, is inspired by the West and his home back east.
Jesse Kitt Photography

Fine artist Jeremy Russell‘s abstracts and landscapes are inspired by the West, but also have elements from his home in Asheville, North Carolina.

Trove Gallery, 804 Main St., will officially introduce Russell to the community during an exhibit opening reception from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4. Russell will also be at the gallery Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 5-6. The dates so happen to coincide with, but not be officially part of, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival.  

“It’s cool to be a guy from the East that can bring my work to Park City,” he said. “I’m very excited. I’ve never been to Park City. I do love it out west, but I’ve never been to that particular location.”

A few months ago, Russell’s unique approach to painting caught the eye of gallery owner Jen Schumacher, who is also co-president of the Park City Gallery Association.

If I’m painting erosion on a rock, I’ll paint a rock and then rub some of the paint off of it, so there is some physical truth to the subject matter.” Jeremy Russell, fine artist

“Jen saw me at another gallery and told me that she thinks my work makes sense at Trove,” he said.

Russell’s style, technique and work ethic are inspired by his long history of working in the commercial art world.

“I painted in the theme park business when I was younger, and I painted rides and stuff,” he said. “I also did airbrushing and automotive paint.”

Later, Russell, who has a bachelor of fine arts from University of North Carolina at Asheville, worked in the movie industry painting sets for movies.

“I also had a mural company, and I did large-scale stuff,” he said. “But I always painted for myself, and I visualized myself as a fine artist.” 

Although Russell continued to think as an artist, he wasn’t making a great living selling his original works.

“I would sell maybe six a year and the rest would be put in a closet,” he said.

Fine art painter Jeremy Russell’s “Bradley Creek Falls” is one of the larger works that will show this weekend at Trove Gallery.
Courtesy of Jeremy Russell

Still, the commercial art world helped him when he decided to drop it all to work on original works.

“For one thing, the persistence it takes to be a fine artist while running a company at the same time is part of the philosophy,” he said. “You don’t paint only to make a living, because there are so many years you do it without making money. You do it because it’s a part of your life. It’s a necessity. You need it, like a form of therapy.”

During his work on sets for movies, Russell began creating his own aesthetic, which included tools and methods that are used to apply paint to canvas.

“How I paint now is not orthodox,” he said. “I almost consider myself as a two-dimensional sculptor. I go about every painting differently, so the result is sincere.”

Russell utilizes an array of mediums including graphite, colored pencil, commercial acrylic and fine art acrylic paints and sign enamel. 

“Because I spent so many years in the commercial industry, I know how to use these mediums so there won’t be any weird chemistry or faulty execution,” he said. “Even though my work is individually inspired and approached, I find myself working on 10 to 20 paintings at the same time.”

This happens when Russell finds a color that fits one painting, and could be applied to another.

“I’ll work on two or three paintings in one day, but not really jump from one to another,” he said. “I probably work on each work three hours at a time.”

The artist is also used to painting large-scale pieces, thanks to his career as a mural art company owner.

“There will be a couple of large paintings at the Park City show,” he said. “I sent 12 paintings to Jen, and the largest is 8 feet by 12 feet. The smallest is 24 inches by 48 inches.” 

Jeremy Russell crouches next to his work “Bradley Creek Falls,” to show scale. The painting measures 8 feet by 12 feet, and is one of the larger ones that will show this weekend at Trove Gallery.
Jesse Kitt Photography

All of Russell’s works start off as abstracts.

“It’s more of a philosophical pursuit, because I’m inspired by jazz and jam bands, and I’m inspired by Beatnik writing,” he said. “So my approach is more wide open, and I’m not painting anything specifically. But there is still a criteria I have developed in order to have a successful outcome. It’s like embracing the parts of life that aren’t manageable or controllable.”

That philosophy draws from Russell’s pursuit of the bigger picture in his works.

“That’s a metaphor about how we don’t understand what life is about or what happens after we die,” he said. “Like that, there is logic in my works, but there isn’t a defined outcome.”

Russell chisels in literal information — objects, perspectives and lighting — when he begins turning the abstracts into landscapes.

“If I’m painting erosion on a rock, I’ll paint a rock and then rub some of the paint off of it, so there is some physical truth to the subject matter,” he said. 

Russell works to find the balance between the literal and abstract in his landscapes, so the viewer sees both at the same time.

“It’s like these things kind of fight for the viewer’s attention,” he said. “And it’s like you’re in the woods. Sometimes it’s more loose, and sometimes it’s more tight.”

Russell began painting landscapes after he and his family took a trip out west a few years ago.

“I was overwhelmed with the scale of the scenery,” he said. “I was enthralled at how big the West was and how little I was. I was taken aback by the erosion that happened over the years. You can see the history of the planet by just walking out there.”

A visit to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, solidified Russell’s resolve to start painting landscapes.

“The stop at the museum, mixed with me actually seeing and experiencing the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, helped me realize that I could find answers in the real world through some weird, intangible way,” he said. “I came back completely wanting to do that.”

Russell’s decision to paint landscapes also came at a transitional time in his life four years ago.

“My wife just had a baby, and I noticed a lump in my neck the day we came home from the hospital,” he said. 

That lump turned out to be Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“I went through treatment, but the way I embraced that was to consider it a metamorphosis and make it into something positive,” he said. “To do that, I decided I wanted to be a fine artist full time and provide for my family. So, I dropped my mural business.”

Like other fine artists, Russell ultimately has to decide when a piece is done.

“For me, any good piece of art will embrace a certain amount of unknowns, and there’s a journey of discovery,” he said. “I will screw up a painting and then come back to it later. I keep working at it until I get it to where I feel it’s supposed to be. My approach is not trying to make a picturesque version of Yosemite. I try to paint what it feels like to actually be in Yosemite.”


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