Anatomy of an Award Winner: Jason Sacran and an EnPleinAirTEXAS Time Crunch

“The Back Way,” by Jason Sacran. Grand Prize at EnPleinAirTEXAS

For Jason Sacran, there’s nothing like a deadline … and some serendipity.

On the second-to-last day of EnPleinAirTEXAS, held at the end of October in San Angelo, Texas, Sacran started a painting that didn’t quite make it. So he ended up painting a big one that spanned two painting sessions on successive nights, and was finished just in time to turn it in.

“I started a painting and scraped it out,” says Sacran, “and decided to just take a walk. I grabbed my bag and took off, and the first thing I saw was this alleyway. There was sunlight hitting the building, trashcans, a dog barking, and I just felt like it was calling my name. That was a painting that painted itself. I was excited about painting it from start to finish. It had great shapes and patterns and the fleeting light. The hardest thing about it was the mosquitoes — they were tearing me apart. And basically, I didn’t have a lot of time to screw it up because of the time of day.”

Judge Marc Hanson said giving Sacran’s piece the top prize was both easy and hard. “This show is one of the best I’ve viewed, either as a judge or as a participant,” he says. “Picking one painting to be held above the other fine work painted during the event was daunting, to say the least. In the end, Jason made that job an easier one to do. At the Judge’s Talk, I told the audience that what I admire most about his painting is that Jason managed to masterfully capture the very subtle emotion and spirit of his subject matter, and he did it with an efficiency of mark-making that set it above the rest. He barely left a mark on the painting that doesn’t need to be part of his statement, that doesn’t have a reason for existing. The passages and calligraphic marks that are there look to have been applied once, without fuss. Everything about the painting is right on the mark. Each stroke, the staging of the lighting situation, the limited color gamut that expresses the mood, the thin and the thick play of paint passages, all go to support his concept in a finely tailored way. Jason admirably lived up to Charles Hawthorne’s statement ‘Painting is just like making an after dinner speech. If you want to be remembered, say one thing and stop!’”


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