One of the marks of good art is an absence of apparent effort. Whether watching dance or viewing a painting, when we can lose ourselves in the magic of the creation without a distracting awareness of the mind-bending or backbreaking work involved in the making of it, we’re in the presence of a master. Vicki Asp’s sense of awe for the beauty of the world, a well-developed work ethic and 20+ years of daily honoring her craft have brought that level of mastery to her vivid and luminous landscapes.
Vicki was always an artist, but only began to focus on her art in her early twenties. “My husband was in the military and he was gone a lot. I was at home with the kids. Painting was a great ‘out’ for me. Art was my vacation.” Wherever her husband’s career sent her, Vicki not only continued to paint, but also seriously pursued an education in art. She studied oil & acrylic painting, watercolor, drawing, landscape, & color theory at Universities throughout the United States.
As a personal challenge, Vicki entered her work in art shows generating more than 75 awards in local, regional, and international competition. At American River College, instructor Gary Pruner offered to help Vicki in refining her work. “He’s a fabulous artist and a great teacher. He gave me great encouragement, but never tried to change me. He took me from where I was and pushed me further.” It was during her time at American River College that Vicki started working on her landscapes. “I was doing some surrealistic art then, and landscapes are king of surreal. I got started, but I felt like I just couldn’t do it. When I see things they just awe me. Anything I looked at was just too grand for me to paint. The world is so beautiful, and how could I ever convey all of that? My paintings were always too dark. But I kept going out into the open and painting. It took me a couple of years, and then they started to get lighter. I was starting to be able to show the color and light that I saw.”
Some artists can capture a picture of a place, creating a photorealistic image. Vicki’s work has the magical quality of recalling not only the look but also the “sense of a place,” giving the viewer the feeling that if you stepped closer to the canvas, you could smell the earth, and feel the warmth of the sunlight. The effect of the light and color that suffuse Vicki’s work may be magical, but the actual process of creation is plain hard labor. Vicki specializes in plein air painting, creating small paintings on location, and then recreating and enlarging them at home in her studio. “There’s something that photographs can’t catch. The light and feeling are different. I have to paint on site to capture what is in front of me. The actual work is non-thinking, taking in what’s coming in through my eyes and putting it on the canvas. Sometimes I don’t get it right. If I don’t get it right the first time, I have to go back and get it again. Even when it doesn’t work, I have the experience of the attempt. I think that if I can’t translate what I see, I have to learn more about it. So I observe more.”