Detail of Rick Wilson’s painting

Last fall, Indiana artist Rick Wilson contemplated the sluggish economy, recalled the flat first-quarter sales of his paintings in past years, and decided to take action. His solution was to concentrate on smaller, more affordable paintings. The result?

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Rick Wilson, of Edinburgh, Indiana

“What was usually a slow period was the best period I ever had,” says Wilson. “I sold a lot of paintings and cultivated some new collectors. So I decided to continue that and have an exhibition.” “Going Small: An Exhibition of Small Paintings” opens May 18 at Rick D. Wilson Fine Art Gallery in Edinburgh, Indiana. If the selected pieces echo themes and styles of the Hudson River School, the Barbizon School, and early American Impressionism, it’s because Wilson proudly claims them as influences. Wilson is well known to PleinAir magazine Publisher’s Invitational painters as the talented artist with a genial manner and serious solo acoustic music skills — many Happy Hours at the Adirondack workshop were enlivened by Wilson’s playing.

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“Happy Little Waterfall,” by Rick Wilson, oil, 4 x 5 in. All artwork this article collection the artist unless otherwise indicated.

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“Early Summer in the Adirondacks,” by Rick Wilson, 2012, oil, 8 x 16 in. Private collection. This piece, which is not part of the current show, was painted at last year’s Publisher’s Invitational event.

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“A Gray Day,” by Rick Wilson, oil, 5 x 7 in. “When I saw this scene, it reminded me of a scene George Inness would have painted,” says Wilson. “It was nearing the end of a rainy day and the clouds were beginning to thin, allowing some beautiful light to filter through.

The detail presented here represents one of Wilson’s favorite subjects: water. The artist points out all the elements that must be considered when depicting water: surface reflections, ripples that pick up the sky color, elements underneath the water, minerals or mud suspended in water, reflecting the light. “So many elements contribute to painting water,” says Wilson. “I paint in layers or glazes, so I start with the darkest darks on a toned surface. I basically do a value painting, and once I feel my values are correct, I start to lay in color, working wet-in-wet. In ‘Happy Little Waterfall,’ I locked in on the value swings of the water trickling off the rocks. That created the focal point and the place where the lightest light was near the darkest dark. Then everything came off of that.”

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“Old Red,” by Rick Wilson, oil, 9 x 12 in. “When you’re from Indiana, these scenes are everywhere,” says Wilson. “Besides, this is my favorite make and model of truck!”

Pieces in the show range from 9″ x 12″ to 2″ x 3″. For more information, visit the artist’s website.

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