Don Rantz of Prescott, Arizona, studied Fine Art at the University of Northern Arizona. He has illustrated three childrens’ books with Beth Neely, and he enjoys working in wood. Since 2002 Don has been painting in pastels, recording the monumental landscapes of the American South West. His work has won significant awards, including the Phippen Museum Art Show and Sale, the New Mexico Pastel Society National Show, the 8th Pastel 100 Ruth Richeson/Unison Pastels award, and the 11th Pastel 100 Best of Show.
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From Artist Network
Although he still tries to get out to paint on location as much as he can, Don Rantz, winner of The Pastel Journal Best of Show Award in the 11th Annual Pastel 100 competition, works primarily in the studio these days. “I’ll work mostly from digital photos,” he says, “which I’m neither proud or ashamed of; it’s just what works right now.” Because he spent his first years of painting working mostly on location, however, Rantz still looks at the landscape with a plein air painter’s eye. “That experience was essential to where I am now,” he says, “because it established a visual vocabulary early on. If you’ve learned how light actually works when you’re looking at it, it’s much easier to work from photos.”
Rantz works directly from his digital images; he doesn’t print anything out, because of the way printing can “flatten things out.” He sometimes refers to the image directly on his computer. “I can get more luminance coming through on the LCD screen,” he explains. Other times, for the larger paintings, like his award-winning pastel, Home of the Ancients, he uses an LCD projector to project the image all the way across the room of his studio. Then he stands about 12 feet away from the image and paints. “This way, I’m not staring at a picture right in front of me. I still have that disatance,” he says. “It helps me feel like I’m still out there in the world doing it. And I don’t get caught up in all the detail. When you work from a photo or directly off computer screen, it’s easy to get caught up in doing too much detail.”
See more of Rantz’s work below and in the feature about his work in the April 2010 issue of The Pastel Journal, a showcase of all 100 winners of the Pastel 100.