Posts by Clover Nelberg

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.”
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

‘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
Read More

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,
Read More

Realism with a Painterly Slant

Shawn Cameron can’t remember when she first began drawing horses. “I never decided I would be a Western artist,” she says. “It was just a natural outcome of my life. I painted or drew horses from—I can’t remember when I started! But from my earliest memory, I drew what I saw, and what I saw was horses and cattle.” A fourth-generation cattle rancher, Cameron grew up among horses, cattle, and working cowboys. She also grew up immersed in the arts. “My mother encouraged it, always,” she says. “She studied art and music herself, and my brother and I had professional
Read More

‘It’s a Calling’

“Besides painting, I don’t really have any other hobbies. I don’t do anything besides painting,” says Chicago oil painter Mary Qian, when asked what sorts of things she likes to do in her spare time. She seems honestly a little bewildered by the question. Why would she not be painting? Why would she have spare time? What is spare time? Qian leads a clean, streamlined, art-centric existence, spending many of her waking hours at Chicago’s Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, an art space where she makes extensive use of the studios and the models the organization makes available
Read More

Creating an Interesting Dance

Some nights, Mary Ross Buchholz dreams that she is making art. “Sometimes I wake up and—oh, mercy—I didn’t finish that after all; it was just a dream,” she says in her melodic west Texas drawl. “I eat, sleep, and breathe art.” It’s an apt commentary on Buchholz’s life, a busy but joyous synthesis of ranching, family life, and, of course, art. She and her husband Bob run a good-sized ranch near Eldorado, Texas—population 1,961—and for many years she has balanced her creative endeavors seamlessly with the family business. “Maybe a little bit of our daily ranch life shines through in
Read More