Jason Sawtelle, CA

Since I began painting over 25 years ago, I have been inspired by the power of subtle details in the world around us. Largely because of this connection with the physical world, I have always been hard-wired to be a realist painter. I see realism, however, as a tool - not an objective. My goal is not to accurately depict a scene, but to communicate the feeling or idea inspired in me by the scene.

Because of my desire to share something beyond a recognizable picture of reality, I often enlarge a small area, or eliminate the horizon, or alter the composition in a way that changes our normal experience of viewing and perceiving. Often, the “scene” I use is just as much a means to an end as the language of realism. It is more of a framework for the topic and the shapes, light and motion than it is itself the subject.

My choice of painting on a larger scale is also connected with these ideas. I want my paintings to be an immersive experience. The way I see things is not like stepping back to take a panoramic photo, but more like stepping into an image and loosing the context of what surrounds it. I want the viewer to feel pulled in and engulfed by the painting in the way I do when I paint it.

In my recent work, the most common subject is water. On a personal level, I am deeply drawn to and inspired by water. Being in nature near rivers, lakes or ocean makes me breathe easier and think differently.

Beyond this emotional connection, I am also profoundly struck by the importance and relevance of water. Whether it is an increasing shortage in fresh water in some areas or rising sea levels in others, the role of water in sustaining and threatening our way of life has never been more imperative. There is little assurance that the tranquil relationship many of us currently enjoy with water can continue, which is at the core of the inspiration for much of my art.

I was a Fine Art major in college (Colgate University class of 1992) and have been making art my entire life, but it was not until August of 2014 that I decided to leave my corporate job and pursue art full-time.

Selected Works