Seeing is Believing  – Penny Otwell 2018 exhibition at Ansel Adams Gallery

May 20 – July 7, 2018

There is immensity to Yosemite that relates to both time and place – it pervades us here; it makes us feel humble. But there is also a romantic courtship that seems so genuine that, in spite of our diminutive status within these walls, we do not wish to leave their company. This dichotomy tugs and pulls at you, generating an internal rhythm as undulating as the folds of granite above you, as reliable as the coming of spring, and as consistent as the rolling current of the Merced River at your feet.

Where too many words could never say enough, visual artists have navigated this rhythm through light and paint, framing a fraction of the park which accentuates and tames the vitality of our experiences that are all at once unique and shared. And perhaps no artist has spent more time and energy within this mode in recent memory than Penny Otwell.

Ms. Otwell, self-taught and utilizing the “alla prima” method, has said of her work that “being a painter is like being a scientist” – the facts are in front of you, the arrangements are endless – conditions, location, and conclusions all determine each painting. She asks, “what if” as a way of experimentation in her making of art. Motivated by the rhythm and design observed in the granite forms and their geological changes, she navigates this rhythm using light and paint, framing a fraction of the park in ways that are at once unique and shared.

New work by Ms. Otwell will be on display at The Ansel Adams Gallery as part of her exhibition, “Seeing is Believing” between May 20th and July 7th, 2018. The gallery will also be hosting a reception for the artist on June 13th from 3-5pm. We hope you have the opportunity to come by and share in the experience.

Artist Statement

I paint Yosemite in a style that is uniquely my own – motivated by the rhythm and design observed in granite forms and geological changes. I have lived in and around Yosemite since 1964, and in this time have gathered deep admiration for the Sierra Nevada Range.

I am a self-taught painter with a specific curiosity about geology, landscape and light. Spending time outdoors and observing the beauty of nature first-hand provides me with the story I tell with paint. Memory and imagination play their own part in my paintings. My works of art are done mostly “en plein air” on a linen support or in a field sketchbook.

Being a painter is like being a scientist: the facts are in front of you, the arrangements are endless, conditions, premises, and conclusions all determine each painting. Asking “what if?” is my way of experimentation in creating art. What starts as observation of nature slowly evolves into a painting, with a combination of reality, some abstraction and a focus on design, rhythm and movement, value, and imaginative color. I live with a painting for quite some time, setting it aside, and returning to it later with a fresh and rather critical eye of the work as a whole. Painting outdoors brings its challenges including bugs, blowing sand, wind, and conversational onlookers, but it all becomes worth it because painting “en plein air” brings me such joy. Being a Yosemite painter is the best job in the world!

Penny Otwell
Mariposa, California
May 2018