Artistic Excellence 2020

There was a time when Patrick Saunders created art that didn’t hold any personal meaning for him. For many years the artist worked as a commercial illustrator and then as a high-powered creative director. These days, though, Saunders follows a new daily tempo. He paints full time, and he travels full time, too, with his wife Kimberly. The couple live on the road in their Airstream trailer, experiencing new faces and places as they go. For Saunders, that means there’s always new subject matter to explore, too. “I’m trying to express my reactions to what we come across,” he says.

A perfect example is Saunders’ winning entry, a vibrant portrait of a traditional native war dancer named Percy Edwards, whom the couple met while attending a powwow in Prescott, AZ. Saunders, an avid plein-air artist, didn’t have his painting gear with him. Fortunately, Kimberly, a professional photographer, had her camera on hand, because “[Percy] showed up in this amazing regalia,” recounts Saunders. Edwards agreed to pose for photographs, and later, in their Airstream, the couple sifted through the imagery. “It was stunning, with [Percy standing] against the backdrop of the sky,” says the artist. “Everything felt so connected to the landscape.”

Saunders’ resulting portrait was one of the easiest paintings he’s ever completed, he says, in part because of his philosophy. “If I don’t feel a personal connection to it, it’s not worth painting,” he says. “[Artists] are creating art for ourselves, but other people appreciate it for the same reasons we choose to create it.” Find Saunders’ work at Galerie Kornye West, Dallas, TX; Eva Reynolds Fine Art Gallery, Overland Park, KS; The Trippe Gallery, Easton, MD; and Globetrotter Gallery.

(c) Patrick Saunders Fine Arts