GA Closer Look: Artist Penny Otwell & Exhibit “Glacial Conclusions”

Artwork on Exhibition at The Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite National Park

Gallery News, Represented Artists

Penny Otwell, “Moving Light, Yosemite Fall”

Penny Otwell, “Moving Light, Yosemite Fall
Original Signed Plein Air Painting
Oil on Linen | 24 x 36”

Arriving to a Yosemite Valley overlook takes one’s breath away! The first-time visitor is often deeply moved by their first glimpse of this unique glacially carved Valley and they shake their head with the feeling of entering paradise. The awe and wonder of this enduring experience steers visitors back for more visits and is why painter Penny Otwell could never ever leave.

Otwell arrived in 1964 at the age of 18 working for the Curry Company Family at The Ahwahnee Hotel but her real focus came with hiking and backpacking out of Tuolumne Meadows and in the High Sierra with friends. She was hooked!

Penny Otwell, “Strands of Ribbon”

Penny Otwell, “Strands of Ribbon
Original Signed Plein Air Painting
Oil on Linen | 20 x 24”

On those hikes and multi-day trips, Otwell sketched and made notes about what she saw – mountains, flowers, birds, bears and more. These lasting impressions in pencil are contained in a multitude of sketchbooks! The artist continues to draw, design and gather ideas for new works in a similar fashion.

Plein air painting on a portable easel is how each painting starts and most are fully completed outside. Others start outdoors and then come back into the Mariposa studio for critique. The artist says It helps to get away from the resource to see how the painting holds up on its own.

Penny Otwell, “Rock Sanctuary, Half Dome”

Penny Otwell, “Rock Sanctuary, Half Dome
Original Signed Painting
Oil on Canvas | 36 x 36”

This spring Otwell painted in Yosemite when limited visitation allowed her to paint uninterrupted without crowds of people surrounding her. Bears sauntered in open meadows nearby. One painting after another came together for this show, GLACIAL CONCLUSIONS. The show was produced in a slow and contemplative manner through the year. Yosemite Valley was quiet.

Penny Otwell, “Leaning Monolith, El Capitan”

Penny Otwell, “Leaning Monolith, El Capitan
Original Signed Plein Air Painting
Oil on Linen | 30 x 24”

Otwell says, “My interest in oil paint is in the paint itself. It’s like sculpture in the way I use a palette knife, building up rock formations with thick impasto passages. My use of color originates from the way I feel about these mountains and wanting to share that with others. I want you to see the brush and knife strokes that mimic Yosemite’s magnificent geological arrangements. The rhythm and motion of glacial formations shows in my paintings!”

View the entire collection of artwork on exhibition in Glacial Conclusions.

— Penny Otwell 2020