Speaking with Thomas Kegler makes you want to run out into nature and see what he sees. His descriptions are breathtaking and his art is even more so. His work is truly transformative in how he captures moments you didn’t think could be captured. Kegler began painting at a young age as a hobby, over time he worked in graphic design then was drawn towards teaching fine arts. Growing up in a large family that celebrated the arts, Kegler and his siblings have gone into arts related fields. In 2008 came the catalyst for his career, he received the Hudson River Fellowship. The Hudson River Fellowship was founded by a group of artists including Jacob Collins and our very own Edward Minoff allowing Kegler to observe other artists and expand his technique as a painter. The experience has allowed him to find the focus he was missing and the skills to immerse completely into painting nature rain or shine, to become the artist he is today.
Q&A with Thomas Kegler
How did you first become involved in the arts?
Kegler: My family background, I’m one of nine. I’m the second youngest, seven boys and two girls. In high school art wasn’t offered. Luckily I was exposed to art through my family, they valued the arts. My family was involved in a hunting company which allowed me to be exposed to nature. This background has really been reflected in my career to where I am today.
What are your strongest influences in your art?
Kegler: The number one is definitely nature. I describe myself as self taught, all you need for this is nature and time to understand your surroundings. It makes it a more valuable experience. As for other artists… George Inness’ work, how through his experiences he evolved his tremendous knowledge so that he could paint from memory. That makes a point that you can paint from an understanding, like he painted from his memory.
You have a landscape painting workshop coming up in July, how long have you been doing landscape workshops and what do they involve?
Kegler: Probably 5 or 6 years. My background is in education. I love teaching; my hometown in Western New York is a nurturing place for the arts. The art community contacted me for critiques or lectures and evolved into the teaching I do now. I do still life and landscape workshops so the location varies. The number of students varies also, depending on the workshop. The time also varies they can range from 1 day to as long as 10 days. I try to do four workshops a year total.
On your website you offer an instructional DVD about your painting methods. What inspired you to create an instructional DVD?
Kegler: I wanted to share not only what I have learned and how I do what I do, but also show how to appreciate nature. In this new generation there is such an involvement with technology, I want this new generation to also appreciate nature.
What do you do to submerse yourself in nature?
Kegler: I can find beauty in the most mundane places. I think that I could go anywhere and find something to interest me. I’m always looking for something that people may pass by. I feel that I don’t have to work hard to find the places that I paint. Every location really has something to offer. The beauty of nature is that it’s not mundane; there is always something to see.
Do the materials you use make a big difference to you?
Kegler: Yes, I believe they do. I believe every artist has their favorite materials. I’m a big fan of lead primed linen. Paints I’m less specific, I use more colors than most painters. At times I will have at least 20 colors out, I may only use 5 but I like to have them available to me. Brushes, my materials are constantly changing; currently I really like Rosemary brushes. The mediums I use are Natural Pigments out of California. Basically a micro-brew of materials based on old masters recipes.
Your work is so visually striking, are you painting strictly realistic scenes or a combination of scenes and experiences?
Kegler: I think the word, interpret is the best word to use. In my field work I try to do it exactly as I see it. My studio work has more liberties using a combination of my field study and my memory. I think that ultimately I am striving for a poetic statement for my paintings. I am trying to interpret my memory. A key to a strong painting is simplification since the elements in nature are constantly changing that is very important.
How do you pick the titles for your works and how do they relate to the biblical references you give them?
Kegler: The titles are often a reference to a time of day or location or mood. They are my personal connection to the work. The best way to explain the biblical references is to give the viewer a reference to the work. A lot of commonalities and life lessons to be learned. Very rarely are they meant to be literal, more an invitation to understand my work. I want the viewer to make their own connection.
How much of a role does religion play in the creation of your works?
Kegler: I’m a spiritual person. It’s infused in my life, the way I carry myself, the way I do my paintings, my background. It’s a nod to my religion. Every time I’m in nature it’s a spiritual experience for me, and I hope that I am able to catch that with my paintbrush.
To see more of Thomas Kegler's work visit our locations in Greenwich, CT; Nantucket, MA; and New York, NY or online at www.cavaliergalleries.com