Lately, Don Oelze has been focusing heavily on the concept of color in his artwork. In an upcoming exhibition at Legacy Gallery, Oelze will exhibit works that reflect his typical subject matter, Native Americans in picturesque Western landscapes, executed in a variety of different color schemes.
“Every painting is its own adventure,” Oelze says. The artist explains that it’s easy to get into a rut and produce what feels like the same artwork over and over, and that for this new body of work, he desired to break out of that haze. In Trail of
the Singing Water, inspired by a creek Oelze visited in the Elkhorn Mountains of Montana, he uses a vibrant aqua green for the water, desiring to challenge himself with this particular hue. It’s immediately evident if you use the wrong shade of green, he explains. Trees and shrubs in the background of this piece are rendered in a blend of vivid forest greens and deep yellows.
On the other hand, High Country delivers more subdued green tones, focusing primarily on blues and oranges. The piece depicts two Native American men on horseback in the foreground, with mountains in the backdrop set in late afternoon light. “I wanted to create a contrast of light—the warm lowlights of oranges and yellows vibrating against a very blue atmosphere,” Oelze says.
Most often, the artist is simply inspired by the beauty of nature. Often, upon coming across a particularly gorgeous location, Oelze says his imagination will start to run wild, conjuring images of Native American explorers trekking through the landscape. “Every painting has its own story...i live in a place where there is beauty all around me,” he says.
Oelze’s one-man show at Legacy Gallery’s Jackson Hole location will run from August 16 through 26.
Trail of the Singing Water, oil, 44 x 32”