Monday, October 31, 2011

Article: Sometimes the World Acknowledges your Work...Door County Pulse!

Thank you Door County Pulse and Randy Rasmussen!

Q &A – Questions and Artists – Wendie Thompson

"Selfless Abandon" by Wendie Thompson
October 28, 2011
The Peninsula Pulse has teamed up with the Door County Art League (DCAL) to reprint portions of interviews conducted by Randy Rasmussen with various artists. To sign up for DCAL’s monthly newsletter or for more information

Wendie Thompson is president of the Wisconsin Plein Air Painters Association, the largest group dedicated to supporting plein ar painting in Wisconsin. Thompson is an avid and accomplished plein air painter and this year painted in and photographed the Peninsula School of Art’s Plein Air Festival.

Randy Rasmussen (RR): What motivated you to begin painting?

Wendie Thompson (WT): My husband, Brent who is an accomplished painter himself has encouraged me and the thought that I may just be able to leave something of value on this planet when I am gone (a sense of purpose).

RR: What is your background in art?

WT: No formal art education but I have been exposed to art of all kinds as a professional custom picture framer since high school. I have always had a wild creative side, and when I learned to paint I studied everything I could find and still am.

Painting by Wendie Thompson
RR: Who was influential in your development?

WT: First is my Creator who is my constant motivator. Then my instructor of many years, Lorin Willey, my husband Brent, Ken Auster, Tom Nachreiner and Dreama Tolle Perry together with her partner Leslie Byrd Saeta have all influenced me

RR: When did you become interested in plein air?

WT: Soon after I began to paint with Lorin Willey (2003?) he insisted that we get outdoors to paint. My first outing was at Lapham Peak State Park in the springtime. I recall it being very buggy as I set up along a path…quiet set in and as I painted a deer crossed no more than 10 feet from me…stopped and sized me up for a few seconds and bounded off. I was hooked immediately!

RR: How has your painting changed over the last 10 years?

WT: My first goal with each new canvas is to learn something. I try to paint everyday, as this is when I learn the most and because of this I think my work has taken on a more painterly look, perhaps has become fresher, less rendering…more painting.

RR: Do you enjoy being the president of the Wisconsin Plein Air Painters Association?

Wendie Thompson paints in Beloit.
WT: Yes! I have heard that getting artists to move together in one direction can be like “herding butterflies.” But I am thrilled with where this genre has come in the last few years in Wisconsin.

RR: What is the most important thing you have learned as a painter in the last 10 years?

WT: I think the most important thing I have learned is to focus on learning instead of making a perfect painting. I think this one thing has freed me and given me a sense of adventure and joy when staring down a new canvas. I have seen many promising students of art quit because of perfectionism.

RR: How would you describe your work?

WT: Impressionistic…I love it most when pieces of color come together on a canvas to create form and evoke feelings of joy, peace or serenity.

RR: Do you have a favorite event to paint in?

WT: I love any event where the art is honored as well as the artists. Artists have a tendency to seclude themselves away for big chunks of time. Plein air competitions give great opportunity to make friends, help each other grow and push you to become better.

RR: What do you see as the future of plein air in the Midwest?

WT: There is a renaissance occurring in plein air all around the country. Collectors are catching on to the beauty, immediacy and freshness of a plein air work. In the way the California and Indiana artists have created a history in this kind of work, artists from novices to experts are documenting the changing surface of the Midwest from cityscape to waterscape and from the rural landscape to a back yard garden. It makes me tingle with excitement just to think about it!

Since retiring from his career in chiropractic medicine, Randy Rasmussen has pursued his art with unmitigated passion. He conducts interviews for the Door County Art League, paints three times a week, almost entirely plein air, and is a charter member of the Peninsula Plein Air Painters. His work can be seen at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

sCary aRT Show 2011: My submissions!

Garlic 12x12 oil

Silver Buletts 16x8

Pie Face 18x18 oil
This is the third annual sCary aRT sHOw at the Raven Gallery in Pewaukee. Join my for a costume Halloween party and Artists reception on October 29th 6-9pm!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sun Buckets and the Value of Critique

Sun Buckets
12x12 oil (Plein Air)

So Saturday I met with some of my group, the Wisconsin Plein Air Painters Association, to paint at the Southshore Park Farmers Market which is right on Lake Michigan. While the East cost was hunkering down for hurricane Irene here in the Mid-west we have been enjoying the stalled high that the hurricane provided. It was a stunningly beautiful day in the mid 70's and breezy. 
As I walked the area which was streaming with people and vendors all I could think was "simplify, simplify, simplify! But I kept returning to this flower lady and her buckets of sunflowers with the morning light causing them to glow. I started to paint fast! In 2 hours all those flowers were gone...sold! Then I turned my effort to work on the tent which rapidly became muddy. If I brightened it to show the sun on it it pulled my eye away from the focal point. But when I cooled it down it seemed dead. I was frustrated. 
After we painted we met as is our habit, to critique each others work. When it came time for mine we talked about the tent and one of my friends suggested that I change the color of the tent to blue. I liked that idea and it took me all of ten minutes to change it. You can see the painting before the change in the photo below.

Lesson: At some point in the painting process I need to be more concerned about making a painting then just copying what I see in front of me...:)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Dance! "Rainy Day Blue" gets the Blue Ribbon!!

"Rainy Day Blue"
10x8 oil
I feel so honored to have won 1st place in the Riveredge Portion of the Cedarburg Plein Air Competition 2011. This was a new one day paint out at the beautiful Riveredge Nature Center in Saukville, WI. Even though it rained all day there I was able to find some shelter under a deck to paint this view of one of their classroom buildings. I was taken by all the blue in the atmosphere with the rain as it did some really interesting things to the light. Thanks to the Riveredge staff for opening up their place to all of the artists and for the great lunch!! (

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cedarburg 2011, Painting in the Rain and some Tough Choices

"Selfless Abandon"
12x16 oil

"Morning Meditation"
12x16 oil

The 11th annual Cedarburg Plein Air Competition was held this past 8 days and I need to tell you it is at the top of my fun list every summer. With over 150 artists attending this open competition there is always plenty of  great social time as well as some serious painting. Normally I would paint 8-10 pieces and then pick my best two for entry in the competition. However this year I had a family wedding to attend which required missing 3 days right out of the middle! (all worth it mind you.)

The event kicked off with something new this day of painting at a beautiful nature reserve (Riveredge in Saukville). It was a very rainy day and I had to leave at 1pm. I found a great spot under a deck to paint. I always keep some small plastic tarps in my paint bag so I laid it out on the deck above held down with some well placed rocks and voila...dry space! There will be separate awards for this portion of the event . The staff there was extremely warm and fed us all a wonderful lunch. All the pieces need to be 8x10. Here is my piece:

Rainy Day Blue
8x10 oil

The second day (Thursday) was the start of the 7 day painting window and looked to be the best weather for me anyway and as I had to leave on my trip Friday I was anxious to at least get a few good starts. My friend Judith Reidy and I spent much of the day together. In the morning we painted in Horn Park, a delightful place along the river that I had painted in before. "Morning Meditation" (above) is what became of my effort and I have submitted it as one of my 2 competition pieces.

20x10 oil

We found a beautiful farm to paint in the afternoon. I was tired and don't feel quite resolved with this painting but the weather has not been the same since and so it will have to wait to be finished for another day.Then it was off to southern Indiana on Friday for the wedding and back on Sunday. I missed the quick paint which is one of my favorite things to do...poor me...:) This coming Saturday there is one more chance for an award as we have from 8-2pm to "Paint the Festival". With an expected 50,000 people in attendance painting Cedarburg's Strawberry Festival will bring it's own challenges. At least ideal weather is in the forecast! Also all the works will be sold by silent auction (ends promptly at 4pm) at the Cedarburg Cultural Community Center this coming should come!

On Monday I was very tired and achy from the trip (fibro is not my friend), it was raining and looked like it might do that for the rest of the week and I admit I had to wrestle with myself to get down to it. I made a decision to paint in solitude as I knew I would be distracted by a friend. So I drove around Cedarburg looking for the next inspiration. It came in the form of a bunch of Dahlias at the Steins garden tent on Western.  I was able to back my car up to them and open the hatch to sit. That and both my umbrellas kept me somewhat dry and a little uncomfortable. But the Dahlias spoke to me...there they were, outrageous in their bounty and beauty...rain spilling off their petals...some heads bowed. They cared not who saw their performance...their effort of extravagant praise. They gave all in utter abandon...I watched, cut to the quick with the lesson I was seeing unfold before me. My response is the painting at the top of this post and my second entry, entitled "Selfless Abandon"...I hope I've done them some small justice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Green Lake, Beloit and Pie Night (The value of Critique)

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks as we have begun the Plein air competition season in Wisconsin in earnest. A new and delightful one day event (in spite of some rain) was held in charming Green Lake WI. A resort community about an hour and a half drive from boasts some unmatched scenery and a charming downtown area.  My hubby came with me much to my delight and read and played his guitar while I painted. I spotted the small Historical Society building and decided to further hone my architectural prowess (or lack thereof) with a small is my result:

 Historical Society, Green Lake
10x8 oil 

  Then it began to pour and so I tucked myself and my easel up under the porch of this building and painted the apple tree just behind. Time was pressing so I got out my trusty palette knife and went to work. I am very happy with the results:

Apple Tree at the Historical Society, Green Lake 
oil 12x12

For a short time yet both of these paintings can be seen at Margaret York's beautiful Gallery called Arts of Daycholah (

Then it was on to prepping for the Beloit plein air Competition called Edge of the Rock. Located an hour and a half drive southwest from me it is located along the Rock river and while the painting area is small and confined mostly to the renovated riverfront it was a great event! My friend Judith Reidy and I went together on Sunday just as mid August style heat set in! Wow...we went from 56 degrees when we left my house early in the morning to 99 and steamy on the way home as the sun went down. There was a new area inside the Beloit College that we were allowed to paint in so we headed there first and stayed most of the morning. I painted this:

Middle College
12x16 oil

After some lunch and some much needed cooling off at a great local coffee place we headed back to the riverfront/lagoon area. We were seeking a location to paint in the shade with a great view as the temperature was ramping up fast! I noted a spot with some irises and a bridge over to the small island but kept on looking when Judith pulled me back over  there and said I should paint that. She thought it looked like a good "Wendie" painting. So we set up there and I started. A mom and hers kids stopped to look and the daughter helped me name it ...Path to Turtle Island. I was very happy with the result of this piece and sold it to a wonderful couple at the opening a few days later!

Path to Turtle Island
12x12 oil SOLD

Judith and I went back again on Monday. The heat and the wind were so bad that all I produced was a "wiper" but Judith got a good start on a lovely painting!

Then last night Judith hosted her first "Pie Conversation Party" of the season when a group of mostly artists and musicians gathered to talk "shop".  Lively critique of work ensued.  Used to be I would be very intimidated by this activity...especially around a group of highly educated artists as I have no "formal" art education. However,  I have learned to really value the measured (even sometimes harsh) commentary of my peers as I listen to what they believe would make my work and others stronger. I take what they say and ask myself if that would fit into my personal aesthetic/style/message. I have learned to bring a "take what you like and leave the rest" attitude as wearing that kind of armor prevents me from being bruised and blooded past the point of return. I learn...and that is worth it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cherries and Tea: The large and small of it!

Cherries and Tea 
12x12 oil

Cherries and Tea
6x6 oil

Painting at the Clinton Street Gallery while working is always a blast! Customers roaming about, asking questions about my process. Some really great art conversations have been etched in my mind in this way.  I worked from a photo I had of my tarnished teapot in my dining room window along with two bowls of cherries. Something about the light grabbed my attention. I may do more of these as that window provides endless still life potential.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Harmony: IPAPA First Brush of Spring 2011!!

 6x6 oil
 6x6 oil
 6x6 oil
 6x6 oil
 7x5 oil
 8x6 oil
12x16 oil Greenhouse (New Harmony IN)

What a wild week it has been! Off last Friday to New Harmony Indiana for the Indiana Plein Air Painters Assoc. event titled The First Brush of Spring. Each year a small army of artists from around the country descend on this small ( about 12 square blocks) , quaint, fabulously beautiful, antique historical town just as spring is unfolding. I understand there were over 150 artist there this year! Each year...this was my 6th...I have gone I have felt like a little bitty baby artist because the quality of the work is so stunning. Collectors come from far and wide to purchase works as the word is out about the sheer quality of the pieces! It pushes me hard all year to improve so as to be competitive some day. I determined to paint every day this year and that I think, has made a world of difference.

While I did not win any awards this year I felt much more competitive and I sold 7 pieces of art! The one of the greenhouse is going to hang in the towns bed and breakfast...I am sooooo honored!I will post the rest of the pieces I did soon!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Now this is Exciting: 6" Squared

I am soooo excited and honored! These two pieces have been chosen out of 1200 to participate in the second 6" Squared show, sale and competition at the Randy Higbee (aka King of Frames) Gallery in Costa Mesa CA. Birthed on Facebook the first of these events (held in Dec 2010) brought an absolutely amazing body of work together from around the globe and savey collectors flocked to the show. All the works are 6"x6" exceptions. I have learned to love working in this format as it offers some exciting compositional challenges...Wish me luck!

The Event:

The Randy Higbee Gallery is hosting the second 6" Squared Exhibition and Sale. Once again, we will bring Nationally acclaimed traditional representational artists to a spectacular venue in Orange County, California. A Gala Artists' Reception will be held Saturday, April 16. The show will run through May 6th.

Click here for more info!!: 6" Squared Exhibition and Sale: Spring 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Silly me...I forgot to tell you...

Hey all...I have been neglecting you...I'm so sorry. For over 6 weeks I was away from home in Florida and I came back renewed and refreshed. Also full of new art ideas. I decided to work in a series as I just fell in love with the Florida birds. Below you will find the link to the blog I created for this purpose so if you've been missing me you can also follow me here! THANKS for your support of my art!...Wendie

Feather and new blog

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Square 39: New Harmony Waif

                                             6x6 pastel $100

This child played hide and seek with my camera for just a few brief minutes...I fell in love!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Square #38 Wandering the Creek Bed (Oil 6x6)

For some reason this image makes me think about the immigration debate in our country. Desperate people trying to get into America and desperate people trying to keep their homes and families safe from drugs and violence. there are no easy answers...and so my three young ones wander the Creek Bed afraid of what is behind and afraid of what may lie ahead.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Square 37: 6x6 Pastel Study for oil...Creek Bed

I can close my eyes and still see these three young girls walking the creek bed  on a hot summers evening. I was working out some compositional things and color with this pastel. Really looking forward to painting it in oil!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011


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