Sunday, April 10, 2016

Plein Air Profile | Artist Kevin Macpherson

The following is a guest blog post by Cindy Salaski, author of
Oil Painting with the Masters: Essential Techniques from Today’s Top Artists. Here, she profiles Kevin Macpherson, who teaches readers how to create a dynamic landscape painting by using bold brushstrokes in Oil Painting with the Masters.

Plein air artist Kevin Macpherson |

Plein air artist Kevin Macpherson

Kevin Macpherson majored in illustration at Northern Arizona University and feels he was very fortunate to have Chris Magadini as his instructor. “Magadini was inspiring and encouraged the best from his students. He became my first mentor, and we’ve remained friends and painting peers to this day.”

After completing his formal art education, Kevin spent eight years as a freelance illustrator in the advertising field. To improve his illustration skills, he continued his studies by taking fine art workshops at the Scottsdale Artists’ School.

The path to improve his illustration skills changed Kevin’s life in a big way. He says, “It was during those workshops that my eyes were opened to the world of painting on location.”

Countless hours outside directly observing nature taught Kevin how to truly see as an artist. This immediately influenced his illustration work but, more importantly, it also set fire to his passion for painting from life, en plein air.

Oil painting by Kevin Macpherson |

“Down East” (oil on stretched linen canvas 24×36) by Kevin Macpherson

“Since then I’ve traveled throughout most of the world. New places and faces have inspired my work—my entire career—and it keeps me curious. Every day feels like a vacation. While on vacation our senses are at their highest level, and an artist needs to be sensitive. For the plein air artist, travel is the perfect companion.

Kevin and his wife, Wanda, live high in the mountains east of Taos, New Mexico. He spends months at a time away from home, painting every day, visiting museums and experiencing the lifestyles of many different cultures. “Art is a universal language that opens up many doors every place I go. What inspires me the most are nature’s infinite arrangements of color, light and atmospheric effects.

An artist must go with inspiration, wherever that may lead. (like this? Tweet it!) It takes years to master the skills necessary to communicate inspiring works of art, but it may be dangerous to become too comfortable repeating past successes. You may produce a satisfactory product but it isn’t satisfying to repeat formulas. We work so hard to figure out how to do it, but when we reach that place of knowing, most artists I admire will raise the bar and find new challenges.”

Recent travels to Asia have shifted some of Kevin’s gears. “I went there as a landscape painter but was so inspired by the people of China that I began painting portraits and figurative works. I find these subjects to be very challenging.”

One of the country’s leading plein air painters, Kevin is highly respected among collectors and fellow artists alike. Past president of the Plein Air Painters of America, he is a popular instructor, guest lecturer and art juror throughout the United States and abroad. His painting workshops are highly attended, often selling out years in advance.

Kevin is represented by The Redfern Gallery in Laguna Beach, California, and Studio Escondido in Taos, New Mexico. He has won numerous national awards, including so many in the National Oil Painters of America competitions that he was the first artist in the organization to be elevated from Signature Member status to that of Master Signature Member.

Plein air inspiration from Kevin Macpherson |

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