An artist’s work is not only a record of a particular subject, but also an extension of the artist, himself. Every brush stroke that goes on to the canvas is part of a series of decisive thoughts by the artist. When successfully combined together, these brush strokes form a complete, visual idea which is readily translated and understood by others. In many ways, a work of art can reveal a great deal about the artist who created it. If an artist is inspired by the subject that he or she is painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., it will show in their work, often inspiring others who view it. Whether it’s collecting great art books, meeting regularly with other artists, attending workshops or visiting art museums, find what inspires you most when it comes to art and then make a conscious effort to immerse yourself in that environment which is most likely to help motivate you to reach your goals.

Artist Scott Christensen surrounds himself on a daily basis in one of the most inspiring environments of all – the great outdoors. Nature plays a key role in Scott’s life, whether he’s out fly fishing or painting on location. As an avid sportsman and former football player, he’s always enjoyed the experience of being outside and now has the opportunity to incorporate that passion into his everyday art career.

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The process and effort that it takes to paint a study from life is just as exciting to Scott Christensen as arriving at the final result on canvas. The ever changing lighting situations that occur outdoors, along with the subtle shifts in value and color temperature, all contribute to the everyday inspiration that he finds in each of his subjects. Here are a few examples of some of Scott’s incredible landscape paintings:

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When working outdoors, Scott will often paint several small studies that can later be used as reference when painting larger works. From these, he may combine different elements from several studies in order to come up with a composition that works well on a larger scale. These larger works are painted back in Scott’s studio, a haven of inspiration which fosters creativity.

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Scott working on a larger piece back in his studio.

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The studio serves as both a gallery for Scott’s paintings as well as a workspace.

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Several small field studies that were painted on location are displayed on one of the studio walls.

In addition to being a master painter, Scott is also a natural born teacher, conducting workshops throughout the year. Students come from all over the world to learn from his years of knowledge and experience which he so generously shares. One of the topics that Scott emphasizes during these workshop sessions is the importance of painting numerous studies from life which can later be combined and used as reference material for larger works. Here’s a great example of how Scott uses a field study as reference when working on a larger painting:

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The initial field study is placed next to the larger work to use as a reference guide.

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Scott has also produced a couple of instructional art videos that I highly recommend to other artists. Both of these videos are professionally filmed and packed with valuable information about working en plein air, incorporating variety into your landscapes similar to what is found in nature and using a limited palette to help create harmony and keep your paintings keyed high in value. One of the most fascinating topics that I enjoyed hearing Scott talk about was orchestration: getting all parts of the painting to work together. This is one of the most difficult aspects of painting and it was refreshing to hear Scott give his thoughts about this subject.

In his video, Three Landscape Studies, Scott demonstrates how to paint three different types of lighting situations and shares his knowledge of working quickly outdoors in order to capture the essential information in each of your subjects. In one of the demonstrations he shows the process of combining elements from two different field studies. Beautiful close up views of the paintings in progress are included throughout the video along with clear shots of Scott’s palette, demonstrating how he mixes color when using a limited palette.

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The second video, Painting Large Landscapes, demonstrates how Scott uses a smaller study that was painted on location from life as a guide for painting a larger piece back in the studio. He does an excellent job of explaining some of the differences that he encounters when working on a larger scale and talks about the subject of sacrificing certain elements in a painting in order to make it work as a whole. The topic of refining a painting is also addressed and Scott demonstrates the re-working process that he goes through in order to arrive at the finished product. Both of these videos contain a wealth of information for artists of all skill levels.I’ve greatly admired Scott’s work over the years, particularly his ability to simplify and control complex value relationships as well as the confidence that he conveys with each brush stroke.

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I’m honored to have Scott Christensen as one of the sponsors of the You be the Judge art contest 2013. Both of his instructional art DVDs (Three Landscape Studies and Painting Large Landscapes) are part of the Grand Prize package that will be awarded to the Grand Prize winner in just a few weeks! Click here to help decide who this year’s Grand Prize winner will be by voting for your favorite work of art. To learn more about the art contest visit www.YouBeTheJudgeArtContest.com.

If you get a chance, I would highly recommend viewing more of Scott’s work at www.christensenstudio.com where you can also learn more about all of the instructional art videos and books that he offers. While there, be sure to take a look at his workshop page and read some of the testimonials that former students have written after attending one of these amazing learning experiences.