By Tammy Christel
(Jackson, WY) ~ "There is a small waterfall, just near the entrance to Yellowstone Park, that is one of my favorite places to paint," says Jackson Hole artist Tammy Callens. "I've been here 10 years, and I go back to that spot over and over. I love our mountains, but I am more often attracted to this area's intimate scenes; I like to zero in on the myriad valley scenes here, and on rivers and water."
California born, raised in the lush redwood landscapes along that state's northern coast, plein air painter Callens has become a committed Jackson Hole plein air artist; her work is inspired by the vast splendor of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Callens is this month's Grand Teton Association "Artist in the Environment," and she will give a free plein air painting demonstration on Saturday, August 11th, at Sawmill Pond Overlook, 2:00-5:00pm, in Grand Teton National Park.
Callens' high spirits are immediately apparent, and she admits her innate energy may have something to do with her preference for painting vertical scenes. Her work is painterly, spontaneous and she notes that for her, shimmering color is a painting’s most important feature. Largely self-taught, Callens says her earliest memories of connecting to art came from her mother, and art has been in her life always.
"My mother was an artist, but she never was 'a painter,' Callens recalls. "She was a comic artist, in that she drew cartoons and colored sketches and puzzles for us to enjoy. I have always had such positive associations with art, from my earliest years. There was a great art community in Humboldt County, where I grew up. When I had children, I'd paint all day while the kids were at school. Those landscapes were wonderful, but they don't change as often as the landscapes do here. I often think of California's landscapes as 'novels,' and Jackson's landscapes as 'poems.' "
Her painting style is influenced by the California Impressionist painters, and by master landscape and portraitists Chase, Zorn, Sorolla, and Sargent. Callens is attracted to mood created by color. Though her canvases sometimes have tonalist beginnings, they inevitably become filled with color. California’s light and color are beautiful, she says, but relatively consistent compared to our region’s ever-changing elements.
"I love the painterly style, it's the direction I'm going," she says. " I go out and paint a scene, and almost never bring it back to the studio to finish; I finish it on site. It's fine to finish works in studio, but I don't want to risk losing the memory of what is there when I am painting."
The recipient of multiple arts awards, Callens is a member of these prestigious arts organizations: New York’s Salmagundi Club, Oil Painters of America, Portrait Artists of America, the American Impressionist Society, the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Steamboat Art Museum, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Art Association of Jackson Hole. Her work has appeared in many prestigious exhibitions around the country. In Jackson, she is represented by Mountain Trails Gallery. Callens gives individual art instruction and last summer lead a highly successful plein air painting workshop at the Resor family's Snake River Ranch.
"I am from a spectacular place, Eureka, California," says Callens. "But I have been here a decade, and I could never think of being anywhere else."
To find Callens' demonstration at Sawmill Pond, take the Moose-Wilson Road from Moose, approximately a mile; Sawmill's overlook has a generous dirt turnout on your left. The site is a favorite spot for viewing moose and other wildlife. Look for the big, bright "Artists Demonstration" banner! www.tammycallens.com www.grandtetonpark.org