Mastering The Sunlight Makes Master Artist

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Cool Shade, oil on canvas, by Bill Farnsworth.

Venice-based painter and illustrator Bill Farnsworth has officially been recognized as a Master Artist by the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS). An elite status within the organization, an artist must win three significant awards at NOAPS exhibitions within a five-year period to achieve this recognition. Farnsworth won his third and most recent award this month at NOAPS’ 33rd “Best of America” International Juried Exhibition, where “Cool Shade,” his oil on canvas portrait of a sunlit scene from Bucks County, PA, was awarded “Best Use of Light and Color.” But while for some, achieving Master Artist status could be seen as the end goal, for Farnsworth it just means he’s moving in the right direction. “I’m thrilled,” he says of the accolades. But it really sounds like he’d just like to get back to work.

“Every time you step into your studio, you have to think, ‘This will be my masterpiece,’” Farnsworth says. “It may or may not work out, but you strive toward that.” And it’s this artistic mindset dedicated to continual growth and improvement in the work that seems to define Farnsworth as an artist. Though, fittingly enough, it’s been an active decision to leave the studio that Farnsworth credits most for his recent growth on the canvas.

“Going outside and painting has helped a great deal,” the artist says. And his plein air excursions over the last five years have affected his work in a profound way, teaching him to edit quickly and confidently as he works, and in turn freeing him to approach his subjects in a more impressionistic or narrative manner. “I’m trying to capture the essence,” he says. “As opposed to just documenting, like a photograph, you create something beyond what the scene offers.” The result is something like “Cool Shade,” where exacting detail gives way to something more atmospheric and emotional, where the feeling of the sun and the smell of the green are more important than individual blades of grass.

And for an artist whose philosophy has always been to start the story that the audience will finish, the epiphany stuck. “My growth over these past five years has really been about critical thinking,” he says. “And if I make it to 90, I’d like to still be painting and still be improving.”

Currently based in Venice, Farnsworth is represented locally by Palm Avenue Fine Art Gallery in Sarasota and Harley Gallery in Venice. In addition to one-on-one plein air mentorships, he also teaches workshops across the country, with the next coming to Boca Grande in early 2024.

Pictured: Cool Shade, oil on canvas, by Bill Farnsworth.

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