NATURE & NUANCE: The Art of Clyde Aspevig

“Surely the true path is to dive deep into Nature.”   ~ Vincent Van Gogh   

Clyde Aspevig’s landmark exhibition, Nature & Nuance, at the Booth Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, beautifully reflects Van Gogh’s wisdom above. The opening reception, on March 12th, included a gallery walk with Clyde describing 30 of his works, followed by his sold-out evening lecture.* Nature & Nuance is on view until May 10, 2015.

Artists and collectors from 20 different states in America and Canada traveled to the Booth to learn from Aspevig, who is regarded as one of the finest landscape painters of our time. Many more were not fortunate enough to get a ticket to his live 2 ½ hour painting demonstration. During the demo, Clyde shared his approach to plein air painting and encouraged artists to go out into nature to paint field studies and then create studio works inspired by nature’s colors. He also urged them to use their memories and imagination. “I aim to create believable scenes that convey emotion. Digital photography is remarkable,” he continued, “but artists are painters, not photographers. It’s all about interpretation.” I would like to add the importance and power of keen observation, and curiosity, too!

“Planetary Alignment & What the Beaver Knows,” a 30” x 36” oil, is the result of what Clyde refers to as “one of my creative adventures.” Of it, he says:

Around the 12th of September the crescent moon and the planet Mercury appear in the horizon at dusk. This particular evening I walked down to the beaver dam in front of our house to watch the activity of a family of beavers.  As soon as I arrived, the parents slapped their tails to warn the youngsters.  The kits dove away from the perceived danger.  I then made a gentle splash with my hand, making ripples on the water, which moved across the pond.  The male beaver, sensing this disruption, surfaced to challenge the intruder.  He circled the pond making sure his domain and family were safe.  Between the moon, the planet and the beavers, I considered the immensity of the moment.

Planetary Alignment oil 30-- x 36--

“Planetary Alignment” Oil 30″ x 36″ © Clyde Aspevig

Clyde also spoke at length on the part that musicality plays in creating dynamic paintings. “I infuse my paintings with texture, design, colors, patterns and rhythms, and interesting layers of paint to create a visually exiting representational piece. One would not use the same musical note while composing a melody. It would be really boring.”

BL_3277 aspevig_Prarie Jazz

” Prairie Jazz” Oil  24″ X 30″ © Clyde Aspevig

 Clyde grew up on a farm on the prairies of northern Montana and learned at an early age that he had to use his imagination if he wanted to satisfy his curiosity.  Hours spent on a tractor taught him to study nature. “Without all that time on a tractor, I don’t think I’d relate to the canopy of the sky in quite the same way.

Beauty stands all around us if we would just build the habit of looking for it,” he added. “I want to use my skills as an artist to awaken our senses to observe the natural world that surrounds us every day.” True to his intention, his woodland scene, November Junipers, contains what Clyde terms, “layers of discoveries.”

BL_3352 aspevig_novembers junipers

 “November Junipers” Oil 24″ X 30″ © Clyde Aspevig

Clyde also contends that art is about problem solving. “In a world that becomes more and more complex, we need the humanities more than ever to find the patterns and rhythms to guide us forward.

A solution near and dear to him and his wife, artist Carol Guzman, is “Land Snorkeling,” a name they coined to describe the art of simply being in nature. “The idea is to go outside to wander and wonder and to look at nature from different perspectives – to take a closer look and experience the simple elegance of a cloud.” Clyde also hopes that viewers of his art are motivated to help preserve the undeveloped areas of the West.

Although Aspevig has been painting since he was 12 years old, he possesses a keen desire to learn and continually grow as an artist. He reveres the great European and Russian masters such as Claude Monet, Isaac Levitan, and Danish-born artist Emil Carlsen. Like Carlsen, Aspevig’s use of layered under-painting gives his work a sense of pattern – like a naturalistic tapestry.

Clyde also holds the art of picture framing in high regard. William Adair of Gold Leaf Studios in Washington, DC, framed many paintings in Nature & Nuance. Gold Leaf Studios is an internationally recognized authority on frame fabrication, conservation, and gilding, including large-scale architectural gilding. The firm maintains museum standards of conservation, mounting, and matting to protect and enhance fine artworks.

The sheer atmospheric beauty of Beginning of Spring, Oil 30” x 40” is stunning. The texture and patina of Adair’s frame are a perfect complement to Clyde’s oil and create a masterful and harmonious unity between painting and frame.

image5_2  Aspevig from my studio window large

“Beginning of Spring- From my studio window, Montana Oil  30″ x 40”

© Clyde Aspevig 2014, Private Collection

 frame detail of aspevigs form my studio window

We call this frame The Stanford White Soft Grill. It is based on an earlier design of Stanford White’s, where the grill pattern is much crisper. The design is based on a New York artist from the 1920s and I think it is perfect for Clyde Aspevig’s landscape.” – William Adair

In addition to hosting Clyde’s solo show, the Booth Museum of Western Art is home to one of the most extensive Western art collections in the US. An added delight is the presence of one of Carol Guzman’s oils, “Painted Buffalo Skull.”

IMG_1272 Carol Guzmans oil Skull

Painted Buffalo Skull 36” x 36” Oil on linen ©Carol Guzman

Permanent collection, The Booth Western Art Museum

Of this painting, Carol says:

My friend and great artist, the late Hollis Williford owned this buffalo skull. I would admire it each time I visited his studio.  I asked if I could borrow it to use in a still life painting and he was kind enough to lend it to me.  Painting it from life in my studio was an experience I will always remember.  Its magnificent power and painted abstractness stands alone.”  – Carol Guzman

For those of you who want to take a closer look at Clyde’s remarkable oil, Planetary Alignment, you’ll be pleased to know that it has been acquired by the KT Wiedemann Foundation and will be on view at The Wichita Center for the Arts in Wichita, KS, along with another of his masterworks.

Clyde Aspevig next to his painting

Photo ©Kristen Thies 2015

It seems fitting to conclude this post with an inspiring quote by the great naturalist and writer, John Muir:

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may head and give strength to body and soul. – John Muir

To view Clyde’s impressive digital lecture, is available on this YouTube video:

Check out www.landsnorkle.com for more discussions on land conservation and the importance of our inter-connectedness with nature.

For more information on the Booth Western Art Museum, please visit http://www.boothmuseum.org.

To contact William Adair please click on his name.

Please contact me, Kristen@WestWindFineArt.com for more information on the art of Clyde Aspevig and Carol Guzman.