published Sunday, May 13th, 2012

American painter Evan Wilson known for attention to detail

EVAN WILSON

• Born in 1953 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

• Currently lives in Hoosick, N.Y.

• Attended North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, N.C.; • Maryland Institute College of Art and Schuler School of Fine Arts, both in Baltimore, Md.

• His works have been displayed in galleries and museums around the world.

It's not unusual for American painter Evan Wilson to spend as much time researching the details of a subject as he does actually painting it.

For his Alabama Baptism pieces, for example, he spent eight years studying and planning before he put brush to canvas on the first painting in the series. Real life also got in the way, but a good deal of time was spent planning how he would compose the piece.

"I really, really enjoyed the whole adventure of doing this painting," he said. "There were lots of elements to consider: The plants that would be growing in that particular place, the state highway bridge that can be seen.

"The preacher in the water, that is exactly what he would be wearing -- and he would go into the water first, maybe with a deacon."

Wilson said he is more focused on the authenticity of a subject than he is in capturing a moment in time as a photojournalist might.

He is working on a portrait of a deceased family patriarch in Texas, for example, and the family has sent him photographs of the man, one of his seersucker suits and office items, such as a clock and typewriter, he used.

Wilson, whose works are the latest addition to an ongoing exhibit at Shuptrine Gallery, "Be Still and Know," said he prefers to work with live subjects, or in the case of the florals he does, to have the subject matter in the studio with him.

For the Baptism pieces, he enlisted members of a church in Alabama and then posed them for photographs and a video, from which he painted.

"A lot of my paintings are done from life," he said. "My whole approach -- the feeling and the light -- is really based on my ability and how well can I reproduce what I'm really seeing."

The original idea for painting the Baptism series came from a meeting he had with the late Kathryn Tucker Windham, an Alabama author and photographer who showed him a picture of a baptism taken in a creek in Gee's Bend, Ala.

Wilson said he has done several smaller baptism vignettes over the years and planned to feature some of those in the Shuptrine exhibit. He also included some of his figure pieces and florals.

"Wilson is supremely skilled in his work and is comparable to one of our nation's premier artists, John Singer Sargent, especially in technique in translucent skin and fabric renderings," said Bonny Shuptrine.

"[My husband] Alan and I have known him now for about 10 years and have followed his presence in our nation's museums and private collections. We are thrilled to host Evan's paintings and share his talent within our area."

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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