Wisdom & Folly! Half Dome

Penny Otwell

Oil on Canvas
En Plein Air


Penny Otwell Artist Statement

Penny Otwell En Plein Air

I started filling sketchbooks with drawings as a newly arrived young working woman in Yosemite in 1964.  Eventually I started painting in oils to portray the wonder I felt about the entire Sierra Nevada.  I am grateful for the countless mountain experiences I’ve enjoyed through backpacking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and even working a whole summer at Vogelsang High Sierra Camp seven miles from Tioga road. This mountain life has had a profound emphasis on my painting along with studying geology and botany with experts in Yosemite.   Living in Yosemite Valley for many years and being part of the Yosemite Community has brought me rewarding friendships still vital today. The best is making art that lets me share my joy of this remarkable place with others.  

I am a self-taught painter who has adopted a fresh ala prima style both painting en plein air and also studio works.  I continue to make bold drawings of the Sierra -- sometimes large finished ink pieces on fine cotton paper.  Working outdoors with paint I often use oil painting knives to bring texture to the surface of the works.  Most importantly, I paint what I feel about this place, not what I see.  I want my work to be fresh and alive!

All work begins outside, some are completed in the field, and then some are worked in the studio.   I'm always wondering "what if?"  I interpret nature's rhythm and design with composition, color, and texture and am currently exploring abstraction and pattern to reveal the essence of Yosemite. This year I took up watercolor painting and collage to explore color and shape with a bit of whimsy!  Enjoy the paintings!





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