Detailed paintings of trees by landscape artist James Kandt provide a unique perspective of natural beauty.
At first glance, artist James Kandt’s paintings look like photographs of trees. But upon closer inspection, these images are actually detailed paintings, and they are now on display at the Vernon Filley Art Museum. The Kandt Exhibition “Landscapes: The landscape re-imagined” will be on display at the museum from Aug. 9 to Nov. 2.
During a meet the artist reception on Aug. 9, Kandt shared the process necessary to create his unique tree images.
Kandt’s paintings start out as digital photographs. Wherever he goes, Kandt always takes his camera to photograph trees. He said he didn’t have a favorite place to photograph but was always on the lookout wherever he went. Although Kandt doesn’t have favorite tree to paint, he does tend to paint sycamores most often.
At one particular location, he was taking pictures when a herd of cows got interested and came up to him. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of this so he decided to run away.
Kandt also photographs the sky. He seldom creates a painting using just one photograph. They are a combination of a separate photo of a tree and a different photo of a sky, Kandt said.
Then the photos are married on a computer and Kandt goes to work enhancing color and light until he gets the image he wants then he goes to work on the canvas. He said he keeps pushing and pushing the color range to come up with the special images for his creations.
“I push the color a bit off center from what people expect in a typical landscape painting,” Kandt said.
Using oil based paint, it takes him two to three months to create one of his unique images. He paints on canvas but he also likes to work on wood because it gives him a solid art surface.
He was first inspired to paint trees when he saw a painting in Wichita of a rock cliff with a tree on the cliff. From there, his current path was set. He likes older trees because they have a lot of character.
His style of work is his effort to disorient the traditional landscape painting. Much of his work shows trees from unexpected angles including lying on the ground and looking up the tree.
“I couldn’t paint normal trees. It doesn’t move me, its not interesting,” Kandt said. “I have to get inside the tree, I have to find the personality of the tree. Old trees have personality.”
Kandt encourages anyone interested in drawing to draw by hand. There are good artists on computers but to develop good skill as an artist they have to draw, draw, draw and draw by hand.
That philosophy applies to Kandt as well. When he was approached about an exhibition at the Filley, he only had one painting on hand. So he got busy and started painting and he painted a lot. It took him two and a half years to create enough paintings for the Filley Exhibit. All that work required him to stretch himself as an artist and he has benefited from the experience.
“It’s amazing how much better I’ve become,” Kandt said. “Big ideas are still in your head. It’s not in your computer.”
Painting is hard work. It requires the artist to sit at the canvas for five, six or seven hours a day. It’s work, it’s a job, Kandt said.
Kandt said he appreciated the opportunity to display his paintings in Pratt and the Board should be proud of their facility.
To learn more about Kandt, visit his website at jameskandt.com. Several of the paintings on the website are on display during the Filley Exhibition. He has paintings on display in New York City, London, Montreal, in private collections and corporate offices.
Kandt’s paintings are for sale and will serve as a fundraiser for the Filley Museum. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday with rental hours by special arrangement.
The Kandt Exhibition sponsored in part by First State Bank and Trust, Pratt Glass Enterprises and Superior Fire Equipment, Pratt Regional Medical Center.