Dec 09, 2010 06:20AM
Photo by Dante Fontana
Given the choice, Vicki Asp would rather be outside, where, in her view, she can experience the world at full strength instead of through the sheltered, protected and artificial lens of being indoors.
“You can feel life to the max when you’re outside, everything around you is so alive,” she says. “The sights, smells, sounds and even the feel of the air on your skin all hit you at a level you can’t really appreciate from inside of the window.”
Asp specializes in painting “en plein air,” a French term, which literally translates into “in the open air,” but has been used to describe the act of painting amidst the outdoors since the mid 19th century. The idea was born out of a desire to capture colors in natural light and – as one might expect – it was very popular among the master Impressionists, including Monet, Pissarro and Renoir.
It’s hard to know how much Asp’s approach to painting mirrors that of the great masters; as someone who once thought she could never “do landscapes,” she’s become someone who excels at capturing the feel of a place – be it a vineyard, field or riverbank – but she has to work at it. “I’ll go back to the same general spot several times a week for months and be out there for hours at a time,” she says. “I give an area intense focus; trying to get my eye to really see what’s out there.”
Like many artists, Asp is inspired by the beauty all around her, but what makes her work a little more unique is that she only paints for herself. For her, painting is a way of crystallizing a memory of something special. “I call it a form of a diary,” Asp says. “A lot of people write about what they were seeing, thinking and feeling at a particular place and time; I paint. I’ll be out driving and see a field and think, wow this is so beautiful, I have to remember this, I have to paint it. It’s how I create something that will remind me of an area and embed those thoughts in my memory.”
In achieving that, Asp also has an uncanny knack for creating works that remind people of places they’ve been. A quick tour on her Web site can be like looking through your own photo album…that’s if you’ve ever spent any time in El Dorado Hills, Napa or along the American River. That’s part of the fun for Asp as well; while she paints to remember a special place and time for herself, it’s always a compliment when someone else makes an instant connection to something they see in her work. You might even recognize her work if you’ve picked up a copy of the 2010/2011 El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce’s Business Directory, in which Asp’s work is the cover artwork.
Asp shares, “A lot of people tell me they feel like they could just take their shoes off and walk barefoot into the paintings.” Asp’s work is regularly on display at Hang it Up Gallery in El Dorado Hills.
For more information, visit vickiasp.com.