Whether it was watching Bob Ross on channel 8 or the hours spent with her twin sister (Suzy Almblade) creating art, Roxanne Almblade found her calling early in life.
Initially, she started as an illustration artist, but would frequently revisit painting. It was only a matter of time before the urge to paint full time consumed her once again. Today, a Plein air artist, Roxanne has been able to bring her two greatest joys together: the outdoors and art.
When the Arizona native moved from the Phoenix area to the northern mountain town of Payson, Roxanne found her inspiration. Suddenly, she was immersed in an endless supply of subjects to paint. While her other pastime is video gaming, when she isn’t in a fantasy land, she’s outdoors discovering new subjects to paint.
This year, she, along with twin sister Suzy, will make her debut at the Celebration. Read more about her journey.
What first sparked your interest in art?
To distract me, my mom would put art supplies in front of us [my sister Suzy] and we’d just go at it for hours. I really liked art growing up. I was really into illustration, particularly comics with the mixture of storytelling and images.
Initially, I tried to pursue that, but then I switched back to painting and that has been my focus over the last few years.
How did you become interested in Plein air?
Plein air makes up at least 50% of what I do. And what I’ve learned from Plein air influences my other art as well. You learn so much by observation when you’re out there, like how light bounces around and influences the things around it. For instance, if there’s green grass, that green will reflect off of the tree, on the lower bark, and working from a photo, you wouldn’t necessarily see that or notice that. It’s invigorating too. You smell the fresh air and the pine trees and the wet dirt, and that excitement gets into your artwork. And people can somehow tell too. There’s something visceral about a painting that you do outside.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
Being outside takes patience. Sometimes a painting doesn’t take only one session, especially for larger pieces. I just finished one that took me five hikes to do. It’s 2 ft. x 4ft., which is big for Plein air. This other one I’m working on is of a lake, so I have to do the same image twice––above the water and then on the water. And that’s proven more complicated than I thought, even though it’s a smaller piece.
Also, I usually try to finish the piece on site, but there are times when the lighting isn’t right––it’s a cloudy day or it’s raining or sometimes snowing––and I can’t go back to that location. One time there was a flash flood, so the whole environment changed in the river. So I couldn’t literally paint that again. But thankfully also I take photos when I’m out..
How do you find your subjects when working in Plein air?
That’s pretty easy for me. I go hiking and whatever stops me in my tracks, that becomes my subject. Usually, it’s something that is lit up in a certain way by the sun or sometimes it’s an interesting tree limb––just whatever catches my eye.
Has your work evolved over the years?
When I moved to Payson, I wanted to be able to capture all of the beauty here. There are colors here you just don’t see in the Valley. That’s why I started doing Plein Air and I started really learning about color mixing. Eventually, I went back to a limited color palette and learned how to mix it to make it look realistic.
I try not to use more than six colors for every painting so it’s more realistic now instead of almost illustrative.
What are you looking forward to at the Celebration of Fine Art?
Learning from all the other artists. I love watching them and hearing about the work they do and why they use certain colors or techniques. I think it inspires and influences my work, and makes you want to try new things.