“New Landscapes” exhibit showcases realistic portrayal of nature

Allison Mueller

Michaela Handke/ Winonan

A pastel painting exhibit occurred in the Paul Watkins Gallery in Watkins Hall, from Jan. 20 to Feb. 3, featuring pastel paintings of Don Schmidlapp, a drawing and painting professor at Winona State since 1981.

His work titled “New Landscapes: Sampling Time in Nature” features landscape paintings of area landscapes like the Mississippi River.

Schmidlapp refers to himself as a “formalist landscape artist.” Formalist artists are preoccupied with exploring and experimenting with visual materials and language to interpret a rich sense of reality and move the viewer with that sense of reality.

He hoped that his work would be visually compelling to the audience as well as trigger their memory, enhancing or enlightening the way that they think about the Mississippi River and other familiar natural landscapes.

“As a composer of these object images, my intention is to shape a very concentrated, intense visual experience that viewers will enjoy, bless and leave with a visual experience that has a lasting impact,” said Schmidlapp.

The paintings took anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to complete. However, there are exceptions. Schmidlapp said there was one piece in particular that took about a year and half to fully complete, due to some reworking with the painting.

Schmidlapp said his inspiration for his work “ranges from the regional landscape from various sites along the Mississippi River including Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge as well as Gilmore Valley Creek.”

These locations were inspirations for his works now and previous paintings that he has composed. He said music was also a big influence on this latest exhibit.

These inspirations inspire him to think of new approaches to the composition and interpretation of the art works.