Kyle Sims

Meet­ing in the woods

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - KYLE SIMS

Open­ing con­cur­rently along­side Trail­side Galleries’ 55th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion is A Step Into the Wild, a new ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tur­ing the work of Mon­tana wildlife pain­ter Kyle Sims.

The show will fea­ture sub­ject mat­ter that in­cludes griz­zly bear, bull elk, cougar and bob­cat, as well as other wildlife that makes its home in the West and North­west. For A Meet­ing in the Woods, Sims painted a mag­nif­i­cent elk in a tran­quil for­est set­ting with deep green conifer trees in the back­ground and a car­pet of dense thim­ble­berry leaves turn­ing golden yel­low in the fall air.

“I was sort of ob­sessed with a Carl Rungius paint­ing at the Mu­seum of Wildlife art. I love the ges­ture of the bull elk in the Rungius piece and I couldn’t find a shot that was even close to that ges­ture in my ma­te­ri­als, so I bor­rowed the ges­ture from him. In my images the bod­ies were all straighter, but he painted this great bend in the neck,” Sims says. “Start­ing from there I was able to add my own spin to it and draw from my past ex­pe­ri­ences. Com­ing up on a bull like this in the woods is re­ally some­thing else. There’s a mo­ment of ap­pre­hen­sion on his part as you both fear­fully look at each other.

Some­thing about be­ing out there alone and com­ing upon a mag­nif­i­cent crea­ture like this is just some­thing else en­tirely.”

The work fea­tures a series of tree trunks that cut through the scenery, some from liv­ing trees clad in green­ery, but also one dead, or dy­ing, stand­ing tree and an­other that has fallen down into the for­est floor and been over­taken by leaves. The lines of the trunks lead the eye in­ward at ev­ery level. “I wanted the trees to merge to­ward the in­side, sort of lean­ing into the cen­ter of the paint­ing,” Sims adds. “I wanted the paint­ing to guide you to this mag­nif­i­cent ges­ture of the bull. It all sort of hap­pened by ac­ci­dent, or maybe in­stinct. It wasn’t planned, but it just hap­pened as a way to com­ple­ment the main sub­ject.”

Other works in the show in­clude the cougar scene Awo­ken, which started as a taller paint­ing and was even­tu­ally cut down to cre­ate a shorter and more panoramic im­age of a cougar calmly re­lax­ing in a moody and dark­ened patch of for­est, and Hunting For Grubs, a ma­jor new bear scene that is filled with a com­plex ar­range­ment of boul­ders in the lower half of the paint­ing. Sims says the rocks al­low him to guide the viewer to where he wants them to look. A di­ag­o­nal line here, merg­ing shapes there, a smat­ter­ing of yel­low grass be­tween the rocky forms…it all is de­signed to give the bear a star­ring role within the land­scape. The set­ting was based on a trail­head less than an hour’s drive from the artist’s home and stu­dio.

In ad­di­tion to this ex­hi­bi­tion and a re­cent sold-out per­for­mance at June’s Prix de West in Ok­la­homa, Sims is on a hot streak, one that was kicked off by a mile­stone that was closer to home: he and his wife Joy­lene re­cently wel­comed their first child, a healthy baby boy. With beau­ti­ful Mon­tana land­scapes nearby, the chance for wildlife sight­ings high and a stu­dio within sight of his home and fam­ily, Sims is rid­ing high—“i feel very lucky right now,” he says. “It’s been a great time for us.”


A Meet­ing in the Woods, oil, 30 x 40"

Hunting for Grubs, oil, 26 x 30"

Quiet as a Mouse, oil, 28 x 16”

Awo­ken, oil, 24 x 50”

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