|String Lake (courtesy GTNP)|
Jackson Hole artist Erin C. O’Connor will give a free plein air painting demonstration at String Lake, Grand Teton National Park, on Saturday, September 10, 2011, 2:00-5:00 pm. O'Connor's appearance winds up the Grand Teton Association’s 2011 "Artists in the Environment" plein air series, and coincides with the opening days of 2011’s Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival.
O'Connor finds her greatest inspiration by painting directly within the environment. Noted for her participation in many prestigious plein air events, she is represented in collections and exhibits throughout the country. Since being awarded the 2009 Joshua Tree National Park “Artist-in-Residency” post, she has taken part in numerous Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters (RMPAP) events, most recently being awarded "Artists' Choice, Best Body of Work" by her peers at RMPAP's Pagosa Springs, Colorado competition. Plein Air Magazine’s Spring 2011 issue named the artist one of "Today's Masters."
"To gain the endorsements of your fellow artists--there's no higher accolade," O'Connor says.
O'Connor came to Jackson 25 years ago, and stays because it's a place where she and so many others are free to "follow their bliss." As an artist, you can never paint as much as you'd like, she says. O'Connor sees the world around her afresh daily. It's a point of ecstasy or a point of madness--but for her, wanting to paint everything you see--and seeing everything as a painting--is a gift.
O'Connor drew and painted from the time she was little.
"When I first started painting en plein air I'd say I strove more to capture details and "true" colors than I do now," she notes. "Now, I don't get as wrapped up in those details. It's the essence behind the details I want to capture. That was never a conscious decision--you're not going to change the way you paint, it's as unique as your signature. My style is not really contemporary, not really traditional. The “Taos Ten” greatly influenced me, and the California Impressionists--the people in the U.S. who were painting outside. It was their clarity of light and brilliant color."
Describing herself as essentially a "solitary individual," O'Connor has lately been painting hay bales--"round bales, square bales, hay loaves, hay laying on the ground, in stripes and in piles!" Painting alone allows her to stay in her "zone," frees her to get into her signature style. Summers, O'Connor works as a landscaper. The job gets her outside, and she can think about how to access certain scenes.
"I'm not above stopping on the Wilson Bridge and placing orange cones around me so I can paint! But there's usually an easier way," says a smiling O'Connor.
A few years ago, while painting at String Lake, a Western Tanager flew down to perch on the artist's easel.
"I don't know if it was attracted to the colors of the paint or if it was a mooch! It was a great experience," recalls O'Connor. "There's so much going on at String Lake. There are the mountains, so dramatic. There's the lake itself, quiet and serene. It's shallow enough to see logs beneath the water's surface, everything is so interesting, there's so much to choose from. And it's an honor to be asked back to "Artists in the Environment."
About the Series: “Artists in the Environment” is funded by the Grand Teton Association, an organization whose purpose is to promote appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of Grand Teton National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Area. Free to all, with Park entry fee or pass. Viewers are invited to bring a chair, a snack, and those who would like to are welcome to paint alongside the artist. Look for the big, bright "Artist's Demonstration" banner!
For artist contact information, email Tammy Christel at firstname.lastname@example.org; www.grandtetonpark.org