“I follow lines toward wide horizons, along furrowed contours, between barns and fences, amongst wild grasses, into fields of color,” said award-winning fine artist, Judy Thompson.
Thompson’s art exhibit, “Boundless,” is currently on display in the Te Paske Art Gallery here on campus until Feb. 29, and the gallery is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The exhibit features several watercolor paintings of landscapes inspired by the Great Plains around the Midwest including in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
“My watercolors, composed of unique viewpoints and narrative imagery, allow a viewer to see the mystery and beauty of the familiar,” said Thompson.
Thompson grew up near Chicago but has lived in Orange City for over 30 years, spending her time hiking, biking and, of course, painting. She started painting when her kids left for college, transforming her “empty nest” into an art studio.
She lets her time in nature inspire her paintings and give them a groundedness as she creates what hears, sees and feels.
“I am inspired by the intricate designs and beauty of God’s creation,” said Thompson. “Living in the Midwest, I am particularly drawn to the prairie and farm landscape and our connections to the land.”
This is why, she claims, people connect with her pieces.
“Through careful selection of subject, design and medium,” Thompson said, “my paintings connect the human heart to the life and beauty of our everyday landscapes – the heartland within all of us.”
Vivid colors and textures spring from Thompson’s work. She creates this effect by painting over lines of wax which resists the paint and causes textured lines to appear. Sometimes, she also uses a marker or some charcoal to outline the different shapes and highlight the visual relationships within the painting.
“Transparent watercolor is the dominant medium used in my paintings,” Thompson said. “Its expressive and versatile qualities provide an infinite palette of possibilities. Incorporating charcoal, wax resist and India ink allows for added texture and sometimes gritty effects within my compositions.”
Thompson gives burgeoning artists some heartfelt advice.
“Be thankful for your God-given gifts and use them wisely, choose a subject which excites you and makes you want to create and get out there and submit for exhibitions, residencies and shows,” Thompson said. “There are lots of opportunities.”
She is a signature member of Artists of the Black Hills and the Iowa Watercolor Society. She has served in many national parks as the resident artist, paid to live with the National Park Service and paint the scenery. She is approved to teach for the South Dakota Art Council. She received a grant which allowed her exhibit, “Homestead Series” to tour the Midwest. She was even commissioned by the South Dakota Historical Society Press to paint a piece for a book cover.
Her work is featured on the cover of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s annotated bibliography, “Pioneer Girl.” She cites this as one of her most challenging pieces.
“Not only did the imagery have to be historically correct, but I also had to work with a committee,” Thompson said. “The finished results, however, were well worth the effort.”
“For decades, I have explored these vast landscapes—their history and their beauty—and have discovered new artistic horizons of my own,” Thompson said. “These wide, open prairies resonate with God’s boundless grace and wisdom and have provided endless inspiration for my paintings.”
Visit Thompson’s website at judythompsonwatercolors.com for more paintings, classes and upcoming events.
**Note: some quotes in this article were taken from her website.