Kathryn Mapes Turner

Dis­till­ing na­ture


Kathryn Mapes Turner grew up on her fam­ily’s Tri­an­gle X Ranch in Grand Te­ton Na­tional Park sur­rounded by the area’s moun­tains and wildlife. “The land­scape and the wildlife shaped who I am,” she says. “It tapped into my spirit—which is what I feel art does. It affects us at a deep level. It brings us home to where we are and it can in­spire us to be more than we are. My goal is to have my art trans­mit the en­ergy from the land­scape or the an­i­mal. I’m not a pho­to­re­al­ist nor am I in­ter­ested in that. My work is a process of dis­til­la­tion. How do I get down to the es­sen­tial? What’s es­sen­tial to in­clude? I don’t want to paint ev­ery eye­lash.”

An ex­hi­bi­tion of her lat­est work will be shown at Turne Fine Art in Jack­son Hole, Wy­oming, August 26 through Septem­ber 27.

Indigo, her wa­ter­color por­trait of a doe, is an ex­er­cise in dis­til­la­tion, cap­tur­ing the in­no­cent sim­plic­ity of the doe and, from the artist’s view­point, is an ex­er­cise in “soft­ness, move­ment and soft edges…what I’m re­al­iz­ing is the more I leave out the more space there is for the viewer to bring their own re­ac­tions to the piece. Then a more elo­quent and el­e­gant con­ver­sa­tion will be­gin.”

Turner has mas­tered the sub­tleties of the moun­tain and val­ley light and the sub­tleties of the an­i­mals in their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. She has also learned the sub­tleties of her craft. She re­calls spend­ing a day in the stu­dio of the em­i­nent sculp­tor Steve Kestrel who be­gan carv­ing a fish from a long rock he had brought up from the river bed. He was form­ing the fish when the next blow of the ham­mer and chisel caused the top of the rock to flake off. Kes­tral stopped and said, calmly, “Oops! I guess that rock didn’t want to be a fish.”

She has also learned that in paint­ing en plein air it is easy to be dis­tracted by the won­ders of the chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment. “Don’t fol­low the light,” she warns. “Stick to your orig­i­nal con­cept.”

I strive to cre­ate paint­ings that record my

own ex­pe­ri­ence of the sub­ject’s es­sen­tial spirit and en­ergy,” she says, “not an imitation of a fixed sur­face reality. This process re­quires my pres­ence, en­thu­si­asm, open-minded ap­pre­ci­a­tion, play­ful­ness, courage and hon­esty. In this way, cre­at­ing art is trans­for­ma­tive, uni­ver­sal and time­less.”

Liv­ing by the Sea­sons, oil on linen, 36 x 48”

Indigo, wa­ter­color, 8 x 8”

Scat­tered Sun­shine, oil on can­vas, 36 x 36”

Vi­sion, oil on linen, 12 x 24”

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