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

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