Randall Sexton had a hard time choosing which three paintings from his collection to talk about. “I have way more of other people’s work in my home — not my own,” he says. “But these three have different, and good, stories.”
First up is a piece by Paul Stempen. “We came up together,” Sexton says of the artist. “We both started plein air painting in the Bay Area at the end of the ’80s and we became close friends. His life and his career were cut short — he died in 2001. But one time in late winter we went up to a friend’s cabin in the Sierras to paint, and on the way up we thought we would have the cabin to ourselves. When we got there, the parents of my friend were there. They managed to get into the cabin a day or two earlier and noticed that the propane heater wasn’t working properly. It’s a good thing, too — we would have blown up, because we were unfamiliar with the logistics of the cabin. They saved our lives.
“Layers of Time,” by Jill Carver, 2009, oil on panel, 24 x 30 in. Collection of Randall Sexton
“Anyway, both Paul and I painted their old truck, which was up on blocks in the back. We were both into painting old trucks. When he died I helped his family work out his belongings and his estate. It was really tragic and sad. He had a lot going on at the time of his death, with a big solo show set to start. For 10 years, we painted together at least three times a week. He probably influenced my painting and my life more than any other person.”
Next is a painting by Jill Carver. “This was a trade,” recalls Sexton. “The first time I met Jill was in Telluride at one of the plein air events. I knew her name, and it was great to meet her and we hit it off. At the end of the week — which was a good one for me, I did some strong paintings — she said she was willing to trade paintings. I scored on this one. This is one of my favorite paintings in my house. I love her painting style, and I love her. As with many of the pieces I own, I really like to have paintings by artists I respect and have affection for. It’s the great, confident painting style that I like, the loose paint-handling, a strong sense of design and color, as well as the ability to draw from pure nature. She’s pretty methodical, but the goal is to make the painting look really fresh and loose, and she does that very successfully.”
“Strawberry Sack,” by Logan Hagege, 2004, oil on linen panel, 20 x 16 in. Collection of Randall Sexton
Last is a Logan Hagege painting that Sexton bought at the Carmel Arts Festival in 2004. “Logan is a little younger than I am,” says Sexton. “I had never met him before this event. You were only allowed to put a few pieces in the show. This is one he chose. He said he was torn about whether to buy the painting himself so that it wouldn’t sell for the low reserve price, so I bought it for a good bit more to make it work. My wife and I have to agree, or at least appreciate or like, what I acquire. And this is in our dining room/kitchen area, where everyone sort of always gathers. It’s one of her favorites.”
“New Beginnings,” by Randall Sexton, 2015, oil on panel, 11 x 14 in.
Sexton says he appreciates how Hagege takes a painting well beyond the typical plein air perspective. “This was plein air,” says the California artist. “I like how he can incorporate some design elements that are steeped in art history into the scene in front of him. That gives it more meaning than in your average plein air work. At the time, I did not know Logan at all, but I loved the freshness, simplicity, and honesty of the painting, and how iconic the image was, so typical of the rural area around Carmel.”