Wyoming Arts Council

Polly, Paint & Pencil Studio

Contact: Polly Burge

Sheridan, WY

2D Visual Art

Phone | 434-444-2888 (mobile)

Web | http://pollypaintandpencil.com

Email | polly.paintandpencil@gmail.com


Updated 6/2020

I’ve changed and circled back to various mediums and subject matter frequently throughout my short career. I don’t believe my current description will last, however, lately I am working to deepen my study of watercolor and gouache. While the paint forces me to generalize what I see and strengthen my ability to compose and understand color, I have begun to incorporate ink and illustration techniques in order to satisfy my desire to capture the details.

I create daily in traditional, 2-dimensional mediums of varying subject matter gathered from my travels throughout the West and, after a few trips in recent years, around the Bahamas. As a Virginia transplant, I've been excited and inspired by the Western landscape aesthetic since I was very young, and especially since I took my first job in Wyoming in 2012. Working as a wrangler on a fifth generation dude ranch, witnessing the purity of light in the early mornings and at dusk, horseback, took my heart forever. That experience has influenced my impulse to render as much as I possibly can, and has made my art practice steady and consistent. I appreciate painting landscape scenery in watercolor, oils, and drawing and painting in my sketchbook. I paint en plein air as well as from reference photos in my studio. My most precious possessions are my journals and sketchbooks.

The West has provided me with innumerable images and feelings through it’s wide variation in atmospheric color, perspective, and scale. I’ve been exposed to unique weather patterns, to the contrast in seasons and its influence on foliage and the behavior of water. Powerful views and vistas are abundant here, in contrast to the rolling hills, winding roads, towering trees, and thick forests of the East. I realize now that I was short sighted when I lived there, unable to take in from the big, buried sense I felt crowding around me, despite my desire to draw at a young age. The West revealed to me simpler, more intense views from which I have better learned to master the principles of design. In recent years I have earned the eyes and ability to appreciate the images and scenery of where I grew up, and see them in a different light.

I am currently reading a large text on the life and work of Edgar Payne, which I picked up to contextualize his own volume, Composition of Outdoor Painting, published in 1941. In reading about Payne, I have found glimpses of myself which has helped me to understand what I am often painting for. That is, for the opportunity to experience beautiful and remote places. The opportunity to “be” and absorb the feeling of my surroundings out-of-doors in a meditative, soul-soaking, immersive sense. I am empathetic to descriptions of Payne’s obsession with painting the untamed and feral, often elusive or fleeting elements and moments of and in nature that are both challenging to endure and traverse-- and certainly, to capture on paper or canvas.

Alternatively, I spend a lot of my winter studio time on commission work, painting and drawing portraits of dogs-- the beings I am completely in love and captivated with. I paint dogs in watercolor and gouache, and draw with graphite, charcoal, and pastel pencil. I love dogs, I have always felt closely connected to them. I love training them, hiking with them, just being in their company. Between my boyfriend and me, we have four dogs, and planning to add #5 to our pack this summer. The most exciting part of painting dogs is seeking to render the individual. The variety of breeds, expressions, personalities, coloring, textures, and the general uniqueness makes dog portraiture impossible to become bored from. The challenge of commission work is choosing a composition or reference photo that captures a glimpse of the individual which the owner will recognize and also connect with.

On the side, I am saving my watercolor painting swatches, studies, and scraps to compose something large from someday. I am passionate about minimizing my waste. In order to “make it” as an artist, the world demands that I continue to be prolific. Prolificity demands that I am selective and able to discard what does not represent my best ability. I’m determined to create from my discarded excess, as a principle of my practice, and so I have begun saving my beautiful, not yet wasted scraps.

With Payne in mind, I have planned a horse-packing and backpacking trip into the Cloud Peak Wilderness this July 2020, in order to reach Highland Park and Sawtooth Canyon at the foot of Blacktooth and Cloud Peak in the Bighorn Mountains. I will spend eight to ten days above 10K feet camping and hiking around to a number of alpine lakes with my beloved dog and my best friend. With my portable easel, camera, and hopefully both oils and watercolors in tow, we estimate our tracks will add up to 16-20 miles. I am thrilled, and in anticipation have gathered a short stack of Edgar Payne and Stephen Quiller art texts to take note from, beforehand.