Posts by Clover Neiberg

Emotionally Engaged

Natasha Isenhour is having a great year, even if it’s not quite the year she had expected. “I’m doing awesome,” she says. “Suddenly, finally, all this work has begun to come to fruition, and 2020 was set up to be just this amazing year. I was invited to do Cowgirl Up!, and that was huge. My gallery in Santa Fe, Ventana Fine Art, is giving me my first solo show. Then I was asked to be the featured artist for the Mendocino Plein Air event. And there’s more.” In mid-April, with much of the country under lockdown because of COVID-19,
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Storybook Lives

Once upon a time, two lovely, talented, and hard-working artists met in a studio in New York City. They fell in love, he proposed to her at the Brandywine Museum, and they married. He paints portraits, she paints still-lifes, and their 9-year-old daughter Sadie makes elaborate structures out of cardboard boxes. That, in a very small nutshell, is the story of Sarah Lamb and David Larned. It’s not always rainbows and puppies, however. Today, it’s lobsters and crabs—four-day-old lobsters and crabs, in fact, and they do not smell good. “It’s starting to smell really bad in here,” Lamb says with
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It’s A Beautiful Life

Shanna Kunz’s landscape paintings tend toward the complex and moody: winding rivers lit by an unseen sun, autumn foliage beneath overcast skies, dark forest-scapes emerging from banks of thick mist. But Kunz herself is pure sunlight, a self-described and unapologetic glass-half-full personality who loves every minute of her creative life and overflows with enthusiasm for the things she loves best: the artist’s life, relationships with family and friends, and the beauty of nature. “I’ve been painting for 26 years now, a long time,” Kunz says. “And I still put a brush in my hand and feel like it’s new. I
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Joseph Alleman Perfectly Imperfect

There’s only so much time you can spend driving, trying to find that perfect barn,” says Joseph Alleman, whose very livelihood depends on the quality of barns he’s able to locate and depict. Sometimes he renders them in dense, saturated watercolor; more often, he uses oils to achieve the opaque surfaces and clean lines for which he’s known. Driving in search of those barns, Alleman recites the inner monologue that kicks in as the mile markers pass: “I’ve got to get out of the car. I’m wasting too much time. Let’s just stop here and make the best of it.”
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Essential Elements

“I’m self-taught,” announces Kathryn Stats, painter of sun-washed desert landscapes and vivid still lifes, then quickly adds, “which didn’t mean I didn’t take any lessons; it means I didn’t graduate in anything!” Stats’ artistic journey was unconventional from the start. “I have a great uncle by marriage [LeConte Stewart], who was a fine, fine, well-thought-of artist,” she says. “I rode horses in the summer from morning until night in the same county he lived in. We had his paintings on our walls, and I tended to see landscapes through his eyes. I really think that had an influence.” Initially, that
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Spirit and Splendor

A couple of Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes really speak to oil painter Ron Rencher. One of his favorites is this: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Rencher currently is in hot pursuit of the beautiful; he’s in the middle of a move to Taos, New Mexico, a place he once lived and still considers his artistic home. During a visit with him in early May, Rencher said he and his wife Carlene were in the thick of moving-related business: renting the U-Haul, closing on the
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Beauty in the Imperfect

“Imperfect vessels making imperfect vessels,” muses oil painter Jeff Legg, reflecting on his penchant for painting the crooked piece of fruit, the frayed and stained bit of cloth, the weather-beaten copper urn. “The wabi-sabi philosophy, perhaps?” If you talk art with Legg for any length of time, it’s likely that the concept of wabi-sabi will come up in conversation. A Japanese aesthetic that celebrates the flawed, the ephemeral, and the incomplete, wabi-sabi is an ideal framework for contemplating Legg’s subtle, exquisite, still-life oil paintings. In addition to portraying objects that are intriguingly imperfect, each painting depicts something fleeting: the petal
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The Studio of Paula Holtzclaw

Five days a week, Paula Holtzclaw takes a seat at her easel and paints on location. Her setting is an idyllic one in the North Carolina countryside, about 20 miles south of Charlotte, a place of lush gardens and slow-moving clouds, and verdant farmland. She paints there at all times of the day, but she particularly loves the dusk, when the light falls and the colors deepen. Where is this magical place? It’s in Holtzclaw’s house; it’s her studio. Although she has been in her current studio for well over a decade now, she still speaks of it with gratitude
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‘The Greatest Thing I Could Have Done’

During an interview for this article in early August, Denis Milhomme is concerned about the wildfires encroaching on his beloved Yosemite Valley. “It’s a little smokier right now than usual,” he says, lamenting that he can’t capture the photos and plein air paintings he relies on as the basis of his lavishly detailed oil landscapes. “It’s really bad, all these fires that are happening; it’s a lot of damage.” Milhomme, whose home in Three Rivers, California, is not far from Sequoia National Park, treasures these scenic places and worries about their future. He conserves them in the ways that he
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Big Skies, Big Ideas

If the legendarily big Montana skies look just a little bit bigger in Josh Elliott’s paintings than in real life, that’s by design. “Recently, I’ve been giving myself a little more freedom to interpret, rather than being a strict slave to reality,” says Elliott, whose vivid landscapes depict national parks and other scenic areas. “That would involve changing colors up a little bit. I’m giving myself the freedom to say, ‘This I think would make a better painting.’ That comes with knowledge and years of painting. I’ve fought such a hard fight to stray from reality, but it’s more rewarding,
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