Plein air painter in Airstream show

By Patricia Ann Speelman - [email protected]

SIDNEY — Ask the average art lover to define landscape painting and he’s likely to talk about mountains, trees, streams, rocks and fields.

Ask him to define cityscapes and the talk turns to skyscrapers and church steeples.

Scott Lloyd Anderson, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a different idea. Many of his paintings, one of which will be included in the Airstream Invitational Fine Art Exhibit in Jackson Center, May 31-June 5, celebrate the land- and city-scapes of life in suburban America.

His is the realm of curbside autos, parking garages, dollar stores and carry-outs. He paints the places most people take for granted and shows us the beauty of our everyday existence.

“There’s so much landscape painting that’s just sentimentalism,” Anderson said by phone recently. “My modern art friends say it’s too much trying to go back to the past. I agree. There’s a preoccupation with bucolic nature or urban, gritty, industrial stuff. I felt landscape painters were avoiding Everywhere USA.”

So, for the last four years, he has taken his palette, brushes and easel to the street corners, sidewalks and driveways of the suburbs. His paintings pop with color — “The color in my paintings seems to appeal to people,” he said — and are arresting in composition. Anderson finds the perfect perspective in any given place and commits the scene to canvas or panel in oils.

“I never did experiment with other media,” he said. “The creativity is in selection of the scene. It always amazes me what compositions are all around us. Without moving things around, there are angles accentuated by light and color. What appeals to me about landscape painting (as opposed to still life or portraits) is the changing light and changing seasons. There’s always something new.”

He looks for masses of light and dark and loves to paint on gray days, although his mastery of sunlight and shadow belie that passion. And he likes to complete a painting in one session. Alla prima, it’s called.

“When you start and finish, your brushwork is more decisive, immediate. You don’t fill a painting with superfluous detail,” he noted.

Anderson comes by his talent naturally, although he wasn’t always a painter. He studied graphic design at Drake University in Iowa and minored in drawing because, “my father was not a fan of my wanting to be an artist,” he said. His mother had been an oil painter and Anderson grew up in the Chicago suburbs breathing linseed oil and turpentine fumes. His grandfather was a professional illustrator.

“I’m a big fan of the golden age of illustration: N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle,” Anderson said. He honed his drawing skills during the summers, making conte crayon portraits at an amusement park. After graduation, he became the art director of a pop culture music magazine.

“I hired a lot of illustration and photography and that greatly informs my painting today,” he said. It was when he was laid off that he began to take classes offered by some of the Twin Cities’ best known artists. He looked into the atelier school — studio painting — but it wasn’t what he wanted.

“The atelier world never saw a brush stroke that didn’t need to be pounded into submission over five weeks,” he laughed. Instead, he was attracted to the work of Joe Paquet, a St. Paul, Minnesota, artist who painted en plein air — outside — and found his niche.

No Anderson paints outside no matter what the weather.

“I function a lot like a photographer. My paintings are a lot like found objects. I’ll head out to paint for the day and my wife will say, ‘Where are you going?’ I don’t know. I’ll head for the country and end up five blocks from my house,” he said.

His works have garnered a slew of awards, among them first place and best in show recognition a dozen major plein air exhibits. He has been invited to prestigious shows and has paintings are in the permanent collection of the Minnesota Historical Society and the corporate collection of Wells Fargo Bank.

Two Minnesota galleries and one in Maryland represent him.

“Our gallery is diverse,” said Douglas Flanders, owner of Douglas Flanders & Associates in Minneapolis, “everything from old masters to very contemporary things, Monet, Matisse. Scott is a very good painter. If he wasn’t really good, we wouldn’t show him. We enjoy having his work. We’ve done a couple of shows for him.”

Despite its being the first year for the Airstream Invitational, Anderson is “very excited about being asked to be in the show, because it’s full of some of the greatest landscape artists,” he said.

He plans to exhibit “Brooklyn,” a painting he completed when he moved his daughter to the New York borough.

So, given his penchant for illustration and his fascination with light and dark, what one artwork ever created would he like to own? He chose a painting by Anders Zorn: “Midsummer Dance.”

“He achieved such a believable effect of light; the long summer daylight so far up north in Sweden, and the energy and feeling of the figures in motion is remarkable, without overworking them,” Anderson said.

For a look at other examples of Anderson’s work, visit

By Patricia Ann Speelman

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.