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Artist of the Month: Trent Gudmundsen

Artist of the Month: Trent Gudmundsen

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The Old Candy Shop (oil, 30×20) by Trent Gudmundsen was a finalist in the landscape/interior category of Magazine 27th Annual Art Competition.

Name: Trent Gudmundsen
Hometown: Vernal City, Utah

My inspiration for The Old Candy Shop
My intent was to convey the difference between the old and the modern: The candy counter is there in reality, so I built a story around that element. The 19th-century architecture appealed to me, and the little pops of color in the candy and other details stood out against the less colorful background of what used to be a restaurant.

My Process
I started The Old Candy Shop by first painting the model’s face and hand and then worked in a more painterly style as I created a hierarchy of visual importance. It took a long time to get the subtle lighting on the model’s face to be perfect, which was the most important part. I ended up scumbling and glazing a lot in that area, while I took a more impasto approach to the background. My favorite parts are the candy and the reflections in the glass. They’re just a fun visual treat.

In general, my paintings show truthful color from life, but my larger studio works come from my own reference photos, which I view on a large computer monitor. I use Photoshop to apply temporary grid lines for placement and measuring. I always begin my artworks with paint, rather than sketches.

I paint on Claessen’s oil-primed linen, usually 13 single-primed, or 66 double-primed. With the exception of my larger works, I adhere the linen to hardboard Masonite panels using archival PVA glue; this eliminates tearing of the expensive linen, and the rigid support gives me control.

My Genre
I work almost exclusively in oils now, although lately I’ve been trying to find time to pick up watercolor and sculpting again. My subject is the human figure in a variety of situations, in restaurants and other places in the city. However, my tendency lately has been to paint rural and old-fashioned scenes. I’ll always have an insatiable hunger for painting the landscape, but I enjoy painting people too. I might begin combining the two.

My Time Spent on Paintings
It takes me weeks or months to sketch a composition, but I can typically finish a studio painting in a week. My plein air studies or other paintings from life take one to four hours to complete. The Old Candy Shop took two weeks (eight hours a day) to complete.

My Early Art Years
Several of my relatives are professional artists or were aspiring artists, and my parents were supportive of me pursuing fine art and they provided me with plenty of supplies. Being surrounded by art helped me develop an awareness of it at a young age. Because of this, I never questioned whether being an artist was a legitimate career choice. Everyone is born with certain talents that they can choose to improve or throw away. When I was around 10 years old, I chose to be an artist.

My Career in Art
I’m fortunate to paint for a living, but it took several years of working long hours at other jobs to make this full-time occupation possible. I once had a retail job in a mall where I sold one of my large and expensive paintings through a gallery. The payment was the breakthrough I needed to be able to focus on my art. I feel very blessed that I’ve never had to look back, though I used to have nightmares of working in retail again.

Artist Anecdote
When I was 21, I lived with my parents where a closet under the stairs served as my bedroom. The area was just big enough to fit my mattress and a small bookshelf. I kept my painting supplies in our garage, and would go outside to paint the local area from sunrise to sunset every day. My clothes, my old car and my painting supplies were all I had to my name. The few painting sales I made paid for my car, art supplies and rent. It wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle for someone who wanted to eventually find a wife and start a family, but it sure was an interesting life experience.

My Artistic Inspiration
Naturally occurring, beautiful compositions in the landscape are my main inspiration, as well as people doing quiet, simple, everyday tasks; things like eating in a restaurant, burning weeds in a field, tending to animals or simply walking a path. I see beauty in those things, and feel those situations can create thought when viewed in a painting. A lot of what I consider beautiful and workable has to do with the correct lighting. Of course, I’m also inspired by the potential held within a large, blank canvas and freshly squeezed paint on my palette.

Edited by Cherie Haas, associate editor of Magazine.

Artists of the Month are chosen from the list of finalists of Magazine’s Annual Art Competition.


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