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Winter’s Art Talks End with Observational Paintings by Terry Powers

Terry Powers, “Melissa Watching Season 6 of Alone Because She Wants to Move to the Wilderness”, 2021, Oil on linen, 54 x 46 inches. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Ramin)

The Archer Gallery wrapped up this winter’s series of Art Talks on Feb. 25, featuring painter Terry Powers.

Powers is an Assistant Professor in Painting and Drawing at Utah State University and lives in Logan, Utah. He wanders around his home and the outside world, painting from observation. Terry received a BFA in Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003 and an MFA in Art Practice from Stanford University in 2013.

Using oil paints on paper and linen, Powers paints pictures directly from what he sees, and does not use intermediary tools like photographs or Photoshop. He figured out how to go about making observational paintings largely on his own over the past ten years. Many of Powers’ works are of still life found in his everyday life, captured in a very deliberate yet organic way.

Powers discussed the difficulty of looking at something three-dimensional and translating it into two dimensions, as opposed to using a two-dimensional photograph as a reference. He noted that most of the difficulty in observational painting is mainly with seeing, rather than in painting.

Now, the struggle of painting from observation and dealing with all the elements that could change quickly or unexpectedly is what gets Powers excited about painting.

“I think after doing [observational painting] for this long I know that the content and meaning of the work is found in the experience of painting, less so in the outcome,” said Powers. “And I think that forces you to look at the world in a much more interesting way.”

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