Friday, August 14, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 24

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on July 24th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 21

Wildling Museum celebrates California national parks, preserves, and monuments with new exhibition


Sixty-three artworks have been selected from a pool of more than 300 entries by the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature for its latest juried exhibition, Celebrating the National Lands of California. The show debuted Saturday, July 20, at the museum and features pieces from 57 artists, with applicants ranging from across the country to Central Coast locals.

Golden state
Celebrating the National Lands of California opened Saturday, July 20, and will run through Sunday, Jan. 20, 2020, at the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature. This juried exhibition features entries of various media from more than 50 artists. The museum is located at 1511 Mission Drive, unit B, Solvang. Call (805) 686-8315 or visit for more info.

One of Jim Hodgson’s featured pieces in the exhibit is of a peregrine falcon he studied during a trip to Yosemite. Half Dome was often in the background as Hodgson and his wife watched the falcon soaring over the valley.

Santa Barbara resident, artist, and avid bird watcher Jim Hodgson submitted some of his oil paintings into the competition. From studying ferruginous hawks to harlequin ducks, Hodgson’s bird watching and painting have prompted many of his travels up and down the Golden State.

“I, for the most part, paint just birds,” Hodgson said. “The national lands of California are great places to go watch and study birds and other wildlife, so the show seems a perfect fit for my work.”

Hodgson’s love for the hobby started at age 11, after attending his first Audubon bird watching trip in Santa Barbara. He soon began sketching and painting birds and other wildlife. Later in adulthood, Hodgson’s career in mechanical engineering helped refine his illustrative technique and precision. For the most part, the artist paints oils on linen, while striving to capture authentic details of the habitat and anatomy of his subjects.

“My painting process takes a while, so I had to choose pieces to enter from work that already existed,” said Hodgson, who uses field notes, sketches, and his own photography from birdwatching trips to compose pieces in his studio.

One of Hodgson’s featured pieces in the exhibit is of a peregrine falcon he studied during a trip to Yosemite, he explained. 

“The peregrine in the painting was seen several times during the day as my wife and I hiked up to the top of Yosemite Falls,” Hodgson said. “Half Dome, across the valley, was often in the background as we watched the bird soar over and dive into the valley.”

Santa Ynez-based artist Gretchen Kieding chose to focus on two dominant colors, yellow and purple, in her acrylic piece depicting the super bloom at the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Other featured artists in the exhibit include fellow Central Coast local Gretchen Kieding, who grew up in Santa Barbara and currently resides in the Santa Ynez Valley.

“I am looking forward to seeing the exhibit and the great variety of work which will be shown,” Kieding said. “I have really been an artist my whole 83 years, but in so many different mediums.”

When entering the competition—which was open to various media including paintings, block printing, photography, and mixed media—Kieding submitted an acrylic piece depicting the super bloom at the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The artist chose to focus on two dominant colors for the painting, based on her own experience visiting Carrizo, she explained.

“While the super bloom often has many colors, when I went to see it, the dominant colors were yellow and purple,” Kieding said. “Which of course, are beautiful complementary colors.”

Landscape artist Chris Chapman has held a special place in her heart for the Carrizo Plain National Monument since camping there with her husband during their honeymoon. The location has served as the subject for many of her paintings over the last 25 years.

Carrizo is also the subject of landscape artist Chris Chapman’s featured piece, a watercolor painting titled Little Soda Lake.

“Carrizo has special meaning for my husband and I,” Chapman said. “We camped there on our honeymoon and have been painting the Carrizo for the past 25 years.

“As a California regional landscaper, the subject matter of both California national parks and national monuments was right up my alley,” added Chapman, an active member of the Wildling’s Exhibits Committee and the Oak Group, a nonprofit led by preservation-minded painters.

For one of the competition’s judges, photographer George Rose, each diverse work in the exhibit serves as a reminder of how fortunate we are to have these national lands protected—and in extension, a reminder of our role in preserving them for future generations.

Artist Lynn Hanson’s charcoal piece, featured in Celebrating the National Lands of California, was created from a nautical chart of the Santa Cruz Channel.

“The diversity of artistic expression is equal to the diversity of California’s national parks, monuments, and preserves,” Rose said. “The Wildling Museum of Art and Nature has clearly struck a chord with those artists who have trekked to these treasures.

“My hope is that this artistic competition will spur more people to take to the wilderness with an open mind and their artistic tools,” Rose added. 

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is bringing a sketch pad on his next hike. Reach him at

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