TROY – Artist Ken Wilson hasn’t had a break in more than a year and things are only about to get busier for him, which he’s okay with.
“I’ve had the best year yet in all this craziness,” Wilson said.
The artist, who specializes in plein air and equine painting, has a solo show which opened earlier this week at Clement Frame Shop and Art Gallery in Troy. Called “Ken Wilson: New Paintings,” there will be an opening reception for the exhibit from 6-8 p.m. Friday.
Several richly textured landscapes are included in the show, many of which were created in the last year. Some depict meandering streams, the bright blue water tumbling toward the viewer. Others feature slate and brown-colored boulders with tree shoots stubbornly climbing between them.
Wilson’s style is distinctive; he often uses a palette knife rather than a paintbrush. It allows him to better depict the rough bark on lush green trees or the ripples on a glassy lake. He began working that way just a few years ago.
“I forgot my brushes one day, I went out to paint and I had gone an hour away,” Wilson said. “but I had a palette knife down in some pocket . . . I took the knife and I got at it.”
The full-time artist is always developing his style and technique, frequently driving long distances to find the perfect places to paint. He completes around 40 paintings annually.
Over the last year, his work has gone far beyond the Capital Region, to galleries in Rockport, Massachusetts, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was chosen as a field instructor for the largest outdoor plein air painting event in the world, known as PACE Plein Air Convention, set to take place in Sante Fe, New Mexico this spring.
He’s also had the chance to work with some of the plein air greats, like C.W. Mundy and Stapleton Kearns. Through events like Paint the Adirondacks, produced by Streamline Publishing (Plein Air Magazine, Fine Art Connoisseur) and Hudson Valley Plein Air Festival, among others, Wilson has made more of a name for himself in the field.
“The good thing from this is that I’ve got to meet a lot of artists who I admire their work and they’ve pretty much taken me on as their equal artistically,” Wilson said.
Largely self-taught, he’s been a full-time artist since 2013, after spending much of his career working for New York State Police. He’s one of few African American plein air artists in the country, according to Wilson.
That may change in the coming years, as he plans to introduce Albany High School students to the art form later this season.
“I wanted to introduce plein air painting to inner-city kids because I grew up in Arbor Hill,” Wilson said.
“I think it’s a good idea to . . . show them there’s an option out there to do other things. But the more important component of that is getting kids out of their environment, and going out into maybe the woods or going out in fresh air and learning how to paint.”
“Ken Wilson: New Paintings” will be on exhibit at The Clement Frame Shop (201 Broadway, Troy) through April 22. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. For more information visit Clementart.com or kenwilsonequineandanimalart.yolasite.com.