Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Landscapes with Todd Telander

Todd Telander will be teaching a Plein Air and Studio Landscape workshop at Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio (WIFAS) in June. Giving careful attention to texture and surface, Todd paints primarily in oils. In the class, Todd will focus on creating convincing and visually arresting landscape paintings.

 Read our recent interview with Todd to get a feel for who he is as an artist.

Q: When did your interest in art begin and how long have you been an artist?
A: My interest in art began in earnest in 1988, when I decided to enroll in a class in Scientific Illustration to supplement my degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Something clicked for me, and devoted my time to the study of drawing and painting animals and plants, especially birds. My professional career began as a scientific illustrator but morphed into a wildlife artist, then a painter of landscape.

Q: What do you seek to communicate through your art or your art instruction?
 A: My inspiration for painting is the natural world. When I see something that sparks my interest, I want to figure out what that is, distill it, and convert it to paint. Sharing this with others completes the circle because they then get to some part of the experience that I had at the beginning.

Q: What drives you as an artist?
A: As above, I am very sensitive to visual input from the natural world. It is exciting and challenging for me to figure out the fundamental visual aspects of a scene or subject that makes it special. To take these aspects and convert them to paint and canvas is quite satisfying and mysterious.

Q: What is a recent piece of art you created and what inspired you to paint it?
A: I recently painted a landscape of the Blue Mountains, just outside of Walla Walla, where I live. What inspired it? This is difficult to articulate. There is an internal spark, some moment of elation when confronted with certain combinations of light, color, and shape. It is, I suppose, different for everyone, which is why there are so many different tastes in art. For this particular painting, I had the spark when viewing the scene, then went about trying to paint the essence of the scene in paint. It was three simple bands; field, mountains, and sky, but exaggerating the darkness of the foreground grasses to give the mountains a feel of glowing light. If I get a part of the emotion that I felt from the actual scene when I view the finished painting, I consider it a success.

Q: Do you have a favorite brand of paints, brushes, or canvas that you use?
A: No. I am not partial to any brand. I couldn't even tell you what brand of materials I have unless I looked at the labels. I think experimentation is good. I tell my students not to worry too much about brands—great art can be created with a stick dipped in a cup of coffee, and really bad art can be created with Old Holland.

Q: What advice do you have for artists seeking to improve their work?
A: My greatest advice is to continue drawing as a way to train the eyes to see, and not to rush. Focus on the biggest shapes and draw them with care, then give them a discreet color. Many painters are in a hurry to get to the details before considering the foundation of the initial design.

Q: What do you think is unique about Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio’s workshops?
A: It is such beautiful place, and the light is ethereal. It will be my first time teaching there, so I look forward to learning more about the school.