Voices of Experience - Kimball Geisler

Voices of Experience

Kimball Geisler

Above Freemont, 10 x 20", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Above Freemont               10 x 20"               Oil

   Kimball Geisler has dedicated his time since graduation from Brigham Young University (BYU-Idaho) in 2015, to plein air painting. He has found his muse in the landscapes of the Rocky Mountains and has applied himself to capture their rugged patterns and intricate light changes. Geisler has been a frequent participant in major plein air events winning multiple awards along the way. Geisler wrote to us about his life experiences and aspirations.

Wind River Forms, 24 x 30", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Wind River Forms               24 x 30"               Oil

   I come from a family with a limited exposure/interest in the arts. It’s not that they DISLIKE the arts—it’s just not something that draws their particular interest. For that reason, I find it so strange that my mom would always encourage and support me when I would make art. She could see that I had some propensity for drawing and painting, and she would always push me to continue to pursue those things further, even after high school when I myself didn’t have much of a desire for it. It doesn’t make much sense looking back, but I’m extremely fortunate to have had someone who encouraged me to paint.

   Did you have a teacher who was a strong influence on you during your formal studies at BYU-Idaho? Do you have any other mentors who have been inspirational to you and your work?

   Albin Veselka. He taught at the university in an adjunct position and I took his class for four semesters while I was there. In those days, he was already a skilled and accomplished painter who taught just part-time. It was a privilege to have direct access to someone as competent as he was, who had actual experience working in the art world. He was always very approachable, and most importantly, he taught in a way that allowed for individual exploration. He would give instruction and then allow me to try things my own way, and even to challenge him sometimes. His patience in this regard was invaluable. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to study art in a university setting, but having him there made the whole experience worthwhile for my career. He has since moved on to painting exclusively (not teaching at the university), and I still keep in touch with him. I recently took a workshop from him.

   I’ve taken workshops from Colley Whisson and Albin Veselka. I’ve also been fortunate to rub shoulders with some of my longtime heroes and to get help from them. I learned so much from Colley Whisson, especially in the area of using value and color to create a real sense of light. Getting that sense of light has been very important to me. I plan to take more workshops going forward as I get free time to do so, but I find myself getting so busy these days.

   As I alluded to earlier, I believe the college/university approach is extremely expensive, not always focused on art, and more often than not doesn’t meet the needs or interests of the student. For that reason I regard an approach of independent study with artists directly through workshops/apprenticeships/friendships to be FAR superior.

   When did you make the decision to pursue your painting full-time?

   Sometime while studying at the university. It was a gradual decision I made while I was learning to paint. I wanted to feel like I had a good amount of skill before making that decision. It was a hard decision to make, but one of the best I’ve ever made.

Awakening, 12 x 16", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Awakening               12 x 16"               Oil

Red Cliffs - September, 18 x 24", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Red Cliffs - September               18 x 24"               Oil

   Tell us more about the landscapes that have inspired your work.

   I was raised in California although when I was young, I didn’t really appreciate beauty in nature. I started to love the landscape only after I moved to Idaho for my studies and I started to paint on location. That was a major transformation for me as a person.

   I’ve been lucky to paint all over the western United States, Canada, and throughout Europe. My favorite places I’ve painted are probably the Canadian Rockies and the Algarve in the south of Portugal. The Canadian Rockies seem to go on forever—there’s an unlimited number of scenes as you travel north from Waterton, through Banff, and up through Jasper (I have yet to go that far north). In the Algarve I really took to the beautiful cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The colors there are indescribable. While they tend towards a yellow color, depending on the time of day they really take on the full spectrum of color that I haven’t encountered anywhere else.

   Have you worked in mediums other than oil?

   In school I studied almost exclusively the figure, and I did so with pencil and charcoal. I haven’t done that in a few years though so I’m probably very rusty. I recently got an iPad with a pencil and I’m absolutely loving that. I hope to do a lot of learning and experimenting with that.

To Be Reclaimed, 11 x 14", Step by Step Oil Demo, © Kimball Geisler
Step-by-Step Demonstration
To Be Reclaimed               11 x 14"               Oil

   Would you tell us about your process from inspiration to final painting.

   Inspiration comes in so many ways, but once it comes, I like to have a simple concept for a painting that I can put into words. An example might be something like, “chiseled mountain peaks as the sun first rises in the morning”, or “interesting shapes created by cottonwoods as the sun gets lower in the sky”. Coming up with a simple statement like that helps me to narrow my focus in the painting and leave all unnecessary elements. From there, I generally do a small painting (usually on location), and decide if the concept is a good one, and if I have the ability to execute it larger. If so, I may decide to go larger with it, changing things slightly as I see fit. This part of the process is done entirely in the studio, where I’ll have on-location studies and photos to help me. I have an app on my phone that is a black and white camera which helps me to compare values on my photo reference, studies, and the painting I’m working on—it has been incredibly useful. I’ve done up to four versions of the same scene in the past. I’m extremely liberal when it comes to my interpretation of a scene, and I’m very prone to adding, subtracting, moving, etc. Most of the time by the time I paint a large version of a scene, there is little resemblance to the place I painted it. Examples below are four versions painted based on the same scene:

Version One, 8 x 12" Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Version One     8 x 12"     Oil

Version Two, 18 x 24", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Version Two     18 x 24"     Oil

Version Three     24 x 48"     Oil

Version Four, 30 x 50", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Version Four     30 x 50"     Oil

   Geisler provided us with a list of his typical palette, brushes and other materials and tools:

   Pigments:  Titanium White (Blue Ridge Oils), Cadmium Yellow Medium (Gamblin), Yellow Ochre (Richeson), Cadmium Orange (Gamblin), Quinacridone Magenta (Richeson), Ultramarine Blue (Richeson), Transparent Red Oxide (Richeson), Pthalo Green (Richeson), Pthalo Blue (Richeson), Permanent Green (Gamblin), Turquoise (Richeson).

   Substrate:  Claessens 66 linen mounted to ACM panels.

   Thinners:  Gamsol outdoors, thinner and brush cleaner; walnut oil indoors.

   Brushes:  All kinds! Rosemary: Eclipse, Ultimate, Ivory, Flats, Brights, Filberts, Liners—sizes 2-16 (depending on the painting). Palette knife (for mixing and applying paint). I frequently also use unconventional tools like putty knives, squeegees, old brushes, crappy hardware store brushes, you name it! Whatever it takes to get the right edge!

Dragon's Breath, 30 x 40", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Dragon's Breath               30 x 40"               Oil

Through Every Crack, 42 x 64", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Through Every Crack               42 x 64"               Oil

Where the Green River Trickles, 40 x 44", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Where the Green River Trickles               40 x 44"               Oil

    Any words of wisdom you might give to beginning artists?

   Don’t go to a university to learn art.

   Focus on improving your art more than networking, advertising, business, etc. Those things are important, but not more important than painting well. The best advertising you’ll ever get is when other, respected artists sing your praises.

   Never stop learning, don’t turn off your brain, don’t stop growing.

   And, just for fun, if you could sit down and have a long conversation over dinner with an artist from the past, who would you choose?

   Edward Theodore Compton. I’d want to know what it was like to paint, and be a successful mountaineer in the 19th century.

Bondurant Sunset, 18 x 24", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Bondurant Sunset               18 x 24"               Oil

Places You've Been, 22 x 27", Oil, © Kimball Geisler
Places You've Been               22 x 27"               Oil


Photograph of Artist Kimball Geisler

To see more of Kimball Geisler's work, go to:


All artwork copyright Kimball Geisler



Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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