Using shape, design, paint, and color, Northwest Indiana artist, Mark Vander Vinne captures the rural scenes many would take for granted, such as the road sign by a batch of trees or the quiet calm of the night sky. With its changing weather, moods, seasons, locations, and times of day, nature is a never-ending source of inspiration for Mark.
His style reflects his wide range of influences poised somewhere between the design and mood of tonalism, the gestural brushwork and color of impressionism, and at times a dash of abstract-expressionism and classic illustration.
With a limited palette of oil paints and a thirst for knowledge, Mark approaches his paintings and his workshops with the same attitude — to have fun, continue to push oneself to learn and grow, always be passionate and give it all you got.
Mark graduated from the American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL and has furthered his education through any means possible, including taking workshops with master artists Ken Auster, Scott Christensen, Marc Hanson, and Kenn Backhaus. Like his many teachers, Mark has a desire to inspire others and share his passion and knowledge of art through his own workshops. His paintings have been featured in numerous solo & group exhibitions as well as plein air events and private collections.
Meet the Artist
What has plein air painting taught you about yourself? Plein air painting has shown me how resilient I can be. Rain, cold, bugs, I'll stick it out until I get what I want to capture from the scene. And humility. Whenever I think I understand light, color, and mother nature, she throws a curveball my way.
What is the furthest you have traveled for your art/plein air? I keep my events fairly regional, so Iowa is the farthest I've gone for a plein air event. I expect that will change. However, I've done plein air painting as far as South Dakota, Maine, and Florida. I hope to travel farther out west to paint, and even overseas, such as Ireland and Scotland.
Can you share a fond, or unusual, memory of plein air painting? Every plein air painter has their horror stories as well as fond memories. Sometimes they're linked, I remember painting in the First Brush of Spring event in New Harmony, IN. For the final event, you can turn one competition painting in to be judged. As I was getting my painting framed in the back of my car a swarm of black gnats surrounded me. I did my best to wave them away, but needless to say, they landed on the still very wet paint. Black spots were everywhere. I was so frustrated, but what could I do? I was out of time and I still thought it was my best piece, so I turned it in for judging. Surprisingly, the judge gave me an award, even with the dark spots. He said he thought they might have been birds, and then couldn't help himself to some bad puns. "I swarmed right to it." "There's just something about this piece that keeps bugging me." It's always special when a frustration can turn into a good laugh.
What is a recent thing that you painted or drew a picture of? Two trees with a moon in the daytime. I'm a landscape painter and I love the shape of trees. Second to last was a D&D elven character portrait for a friend. Yep, I'm a nerd at heart.
What is your favorite plein air subject, location or time of the year to plein air paint? This is a difficult question for me. I love the variety of subjects, locations, seasons and times of day. That's part of the fun of being a landscape painter. But if I had to narrow it down, I'd say tree shapes and nocturnes. There's just something about the night and the dark shapes that evokes a mysterious mood that I love to try to capture. It's also quite challenging and I'm apt to fail as often as I succeed at those artworks.
What is something that looks fun that you want to try? I've always dreamed of getting into my car and traveling the west, painting the national parks and western America landscapes. I travelled a lot as a child and was fortunate to see many of them. But I do love mountains, canyons, arches, buttes, mesas and the northwest coastline. That all just sounds amazing to paint to me.
Side note: In art school I took a trip out to Denver with friends to see a prestigious oil painting show that included some of the greatest painters of our time, including Richard Schmid, Jaimie Wyeth, Walt Gonske, Buffalo Kaplinski, Burt Silverman, and my watercolor teacher Irving Shapiro to name a few. I didn't get much opportunity to draw or paint the Colorado landscape and I haven't been out that direction in a long, long time. That was a powerful experience and I yearn to get back out there and try to capture my fondness for the scenery.