On Display

Penny Otwell

I am a self-taught painter who started working with drawings, then watercolors, acrylics, pastel, ink, and now in oil.  What I have learned is to not just paint what I see, but what I feel about a place.  At times I finish a plein air painting outdoors, or other times it comes into the Mariposa studio for more adjustments. 

Painting outside is my way of connecting with the natural world, a joyful experience in the wind, sun, and even snow and rain.  I feel I am an integral part of nature while designing the rhythm I see when painting “en plein air.”  I have lived in the Yosemite area since I was 18 years old and started drawing on backpacks and hikes on my day’s off.  Then I discovered oil paint!

Painting in oil offers me a luscious medium of rich color, a smooth or textured surface that shares my enthusiasm for the beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  I use my palette knife to paint with, or large brushes and mix my own colors.  I’ve become a good naturalist, an observer of how light changes over mountain forms as I begin each painting outside. I love to hike and have had many outdoor adventures and trips in the High Sierra — even worked at Vogelsang High Sierra Camp in the ‘70’s which is seven miles from the nearest road.  This mountain life has had a profound emphasis on my painting.  Sometimes I paint from memory and I’ve studied geology and botany just for fun. 


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