BROOKE WETZEL (b. 1984), Sun River, 2015, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in., private collection
BROOKE WETZEL (b. 1984) came into this world with a love of nature and art in her blood. Spending most of her childhood outdoors exploring the mountains of Montana and Idaho, she simultaneously was infuenced by watching her artist father sketching and by studying the work of two great-uncles, who were illustrators for Walt Disney Studios. These experiences planted seeds for her own artistic development, and her destiny to become an interpreter of landscape and light through paint was set in motion. “Mysterious and fascinating, adventurous and strangely beautiful!” the artist writes on her website. “There is nothing more truly romantic than God’s creation. When the sky becomes illuminated at daybreak and nightfall or the sun is difused by a storm cloud, it causes aspects of nature to become quiet and subdued. It’s a numinous peace that speaks volumes to me. I am blessed to express that through a paintbrush.” From her adolescent adventures to her adult artistic wanderings, Wetzel has progressed greatly, learning and growing through constant practice and an unwavering commitment to the Western landscape she loves most. The artist can pinpoint the exact moment when she transitioned from focusing on the physical traits of a scene to capturing a sense of place: it was while painting the piece pictured here, Sun River. “I spent a few days with family friends at their cabin on Sun River in Montana, and I found the landscape to be very unique and inspiring,” the artist recalls. “It’s a place where eastern and western Montana merge, and the diferent trees and terrain from each create a place that feels magical — a place that is also hard to paint believably.
I was down by the water watching the morning sun glisten across the ripples, which is one of my favorite efects of light and one I had been trying hard to paint. Sun River was the frst painting I felt really captured that efect. As a young artist, I was still looking for my ‘artistic voice,’ and I found it with this painting. My art became more about the feeling and mood of a place and less about its details.” An avid outdoorswoman, Wetzel can be found most days either plein air painting or on an adventure of some kind: backpacking, fshing, boating, hiking — or hunting for her next subject. This constant outdoor activity has greatly heightened her appreciation for both the subtle and signature displays of nature during various seasons and times of day. She takes every beautiful detail to heart — the quiet pastel colors of a sunrise, the comforting golden light of a sunset, the gentle rolling colors of a winding river — and then transfers these observations to her paintings. When Wetzel is not exploring the great outdoors, she is settled in her home and studio in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, which she shares with her husband, son, and daughter — her greatest motivation and supporters. Wetzel is represented by four Montana galleries: A. Banks Gallery (Bozeman), Beartooth Gallery Fine Art (Red Lodge), Bitterroot Frames Fine Art Gallery (Bitterroot Valley), and Dick Idol Gallery (Whitefsh).
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