While artist Andrew Judkins focuses mostly on landscapes painted on canvas or panels with oil, visitors to his exhibition this month at the Owatonna Arts Center can also view examples of his smaller acrylic paintings featuring regional streams, as well as his series of gouache works—the first time those will be displayed publicly.
Judkins has been painting pieces specifically for this show, and he also handpicked several old favorites, he said. The acrylic streams stand in marked contrast to the larger oil landscapes, while the gouache pieces were made possible by a grant he received.
While Judkins might spend a month on an oil painting depending on size and intricacy, the acrylic stream pieces “take even longer,” because of “tons of layers of glazes,” he said. “Some have up to 50 layers of paint on them.”
The gouache works, on the other hand, which “are almost like postcard-size,” are the quickest, as “I can do one in an evening,” he said. Because they’re so fast, he can experiment more with the opaque watercolor medium.
Still, his medium of choice is oil, first and foremost due to “how it handles when wet,” he said. “It blends in a way I can’t get with any other medium, there’s a great richness in appearance when it’s dry, and the transparent pigments almost glow.”
Judkins adopted his single-layer technique for oil painting while in graduate school at the suggestion of a professor. Previously, he’d utilized numerous layers, waiting for oil to dry, then using small strokes of the brush over the top, but he switched to a single-layer, wet-on-wet method and “liked the immediacy.”
It also offered a look that wasn’t “overworked,” he said. “It was a big switch for me, but that technique touches me more.”
As to the landscapes, well, “I’ve always been fascinated by nature,” he said. “It’s what I connect with,” and flowing water,” in particular, “has always attracted me.”
Growing up in the Mankato area—where he still resides—required “hunting” for natural surroundings, but “there are quite a few waterfalls, if you know where to look,” he said. “There are hidden areas that are very scenic and interesting.”
Waterfalls have long “inspired” Judkins, and perhaps no waterfall in this area is more impressive than Triple Falls, which “has exploded in popularity the past few years,” he said. “It used to be that no one knew about it.”
His exhibition at the arts center officially opens Sunday and runs through July 29. Judkins will be in the gallery on the 29th, which is also the final day of Art on the Hills.
“It’s exciting to see a young person who paints (in a) realistic (manner),” said Silvan Durben, creative director of the Owatonna Arts Center. Oil painting is “a traditional medium,” and the landscapes ask “us to look at the world around us.”
“Most of us spend much of our time (inside),” Durben added. Art like the paintings produced by Judkins offer “a way of relating the natural world around us.”
With a grandmother who was an artist and a mother who also caught “the artist bug,” Judkins “was surrounded by (art)” so it “seemed like something normal to do,” he explained Tuesday afternoon. “I went to school for it, and I’ve been working at it for a really long time.”
Reach Reporter Ryan Anderson at 507-444-2376 or follow him on Twitter @randerson_ryan.