“Through my journey as an artist I have found that a painting is more than the subject itself; it is also more than the paint itself; it is a balance between the two, like letting both the dancers and the music create a ballet. The paint takes the stage here and the figure there, all in turn, creating an exchange that only a painting can, and it is marvelous. Each painting has its own personality and it is exciting to watch it unfold. Many times the painting has its own ideas and I simply have to step out of the way and let it dictate, questioning nothing.” -Trent
Trent Gudmundsen (born 1978 in California, USA) grew up in a small Utah farming community where he began oil painting at the age of 14. He later attended college on a full-tuition art scholarship, but the artist frequently found himself painting in the nearby fields and canyons instead of attending his classes because he “learned so much more by just painting.” …but the experience yielded one lasting result: the artist, bored of his classes, decided to paint quick studies of the people around him, and quickly found that he was quite good at painting people. Trent soon left school to paint on his own and thereafter moved to Colorado where he met and married Lorajean. That same year, Southwest Art magazine recognized Trent’s potential in their annual “21 Under 31” article. (Later, the magazine would feature Trent in a 6-page feature [in August 2010]).
Trent’s work has now been recognized with top awards on a national level including at the American Impressionist Society National Exhibition (NY, NY. 2019), two Oil Painters of America National Exhibitions (2003 & 2009), and the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society’s “Best of America” Exhibit (2019).
Inspired largely by European and Soviet impressionists and realists, Gudmundsen’s paintings are traditional in theme, but painted in what amounts to be a very contemporary approach, often simplifying parts of the painting down to just graphic blocks of color, and other times by subduing and “de-constructing” the edges of figures until they almost meld with the background. Unlike some contemporary works that seek to temporarily ‘wow’ the viewer with garish colors and gimmicky methods, Gudmundsen’s work seeks to be both accurate and subdued while also tantalizing the viewer with a reserved amount of implied texture and thick brushwork, a combination that yields works of art that become more and more visually gratifying the more they’re viewed and lived with.
Trent’s never-ending artistic goal is to say more and more with each painting while giving the viewer more and more opportunity to fill in the rest of the visual story on their own. In that way, Gudmundsen’s works are suggestions for the viewer to remember or create an experience unique and important to them.
Trent and Lorajean and their 5 children live in their hand-build stone farmhouse near Preston, Idaho.
Back in the late 90’s, Trent Gudmundsen found himself skipping his college art classes to instead paint in the nearby fields and canyons; he dropped out half-way through his second year, having painted well over 200 small studies from nature in that amount of time. Trent’s attitude about self-education has continued all his life, and he feels that this attitude has largely shaped who he is as a person and an artist.Gudmundsen is a self-described “small-town country boy”, but his work is steadily becoming recognized regionally and nationally: the artist recently won an Award of Merit at the Springville (Utah) Museum’s “Spring Salon”, and was honored at two different Oil Painters of America national shows (in 2003 & 2009) with an Award of Excellence at each.Trent’s work can be found in the prestigious “Great American Figurative Artists” show each year in California, and recently his work attracted the attention of Southwest Art magazine with a full-length feature article in August of 2010. His work can be found in nine fine art galleries throughout the West, including this one.Trent and his wife Lorajean live in an old house in Logan and have 4 children…the kids have 7 pet chickens.See more of Trent’s beautiful artwork at: www.TrentGudmundsen.com.
Artist of the Month: Trent Gudmundsen
The Old Candy Shop (oil, 30×20) by Trent Gudmundsen was a finalist in the landscape/interior category of The Artist’s Magazine 27th Annual Art Competition.
Name: Trent Gudmundsen
Hometown: Vernal City, Utah
My inspiration for The Old Candy Shop
My intent was to convey the difference between the old and the modern: The candy counter is there in reality, so I built a story around that element. The 19th-century architecture appealed to me, and the little pops of color in the candy and other details stood out against the less colorful background of what used to be a restaurant.
I started The Old Candy Shop by first painting the model’s face and hand and then worked in a more painterly style as I created a hierarchy of visual importance. It took a long time to get the subtle lighting on the model’s face to be perfect, which was the most important part. I ended up scumbling and glazing a lot in that area, while I took a more impasto approach to the background. My favorite parts are the candy and the reflections in the glass. They’re just a fun visual treat.
In general, my paintings show truthful color from life, but my larger studio works come from my own reference photos, which I view on a large computer monitor. I use Photoshop to apply temporary grid lines for placement and measuring. I always begin my artworks with paint, rather than sketches.
I paint on Claessen’s oil-primed linen, usually 13 single-primed, or 66 double-primed. With the exception of my larger works, I adhere the linen to hardboard Masonite panels using archival PVA glue; this eliminates tearing of the expensive linen, and the rigid support gives me control.
I work almost exclusively in oils now, although lately I’ve been trying to find time to pick up watercolor and sculpting again. My subject is the human figure in a variety of situations, in restaurants and other places in the city. However, my tendency lately has been to paint rural and old-fashioned scenes. I’ll always have an insatiable hunger for painting the landscape, but I enjoy painting people too. I might begin combining the two.
My Time Spent on Paintings
It takes me weeks or months to sketch a composition, but I can typically finish a studio painting in a week. My plein air studies or other paintings from life take one to four hours to complete. The Old Candy Shop took two weeks (eight hours a day) to complete.
My Early Art Years
Several of my relatives are professional artists or were aspiring artists, and my parents were supportive of me pursuing fine art and they provided me with plenty of supplies. Being surrounded by art helped me develop an awareness of it at a young age. Because of this, I never questioned whether being an artist was a legitimate career choice. Everyone is born with certain talents that they can choose to improve or throw away. When I was around 10 years old, I chose to be an artist.
My Career in Art
I’m fortunate to paint for a living, but it took several years of working long hours at other jobs to make this full-time occupation possible. I once had a retail job in a mall where I sold one of my large and expensive paintings through a gallery. The payment was the breakthrough I needed to be able to focus on my art. I feel very blessed that I’ve never had to look back, though I used to have nightmares of working in retail again.
When I was 21, I lived with my parents where a closet under the stairs served as my bedroom. The area was just big enough to fit my mattress and a small bookshelf. I kept my painting supplies in our garage, and would go outside to paint the local area from sunrise to sunset every day. My clothes, my old car and my painting supplies were all I had to my name. The few painting sales I made paid for my car, art supplies and rent. It wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle for someone who wanted to eventually find a wife and start a family, but it sure was an interesting life experience.
My Artistic Inspiration
Naturally occurring, beautiful compositions in the landscape are my main inspiration, as well as people doing quiet, simple, everyday tasks; things like eating in a restaurant, burning weeds in a field, tending to animals or simply walking a path. I see beauty in those things, and feel those situations can create thought when viewed in a painting. A lot of what I consider beautiful and workable has to do with the correct lighting. Of course, I’m also inspired by the potential held within a large, blank canvas and freshly squeezed paint on my palette.