Like many plein air painters, Wayne Campbell had a problem that needed solving.
His passion was to go out into the Indiana landscape and paint on the go. But doing so could be difficult if he had to haul a canvas, paint, easel and brushes everywhere he went. The Flat Rock artist had to balance between not using enough in his work, and pouring out too much and wasting it.
So he invented the Painting Safe, a special easel that was simple to pack up and carry, protecting both a wet canvas and using a patented airlock to keep his paint moist.
That creative spirit will be on display during Campbell’s exhibition at the Southside Art League gallery. The show runs April 1 to 30 and will feature a variety of his still lifes, portraits and landscapes. The gallery is located at 299 E. Broadway St., Greenwood, and is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
An opening reception will be conducted from 6 to 8 p.m. April 10. The exhibition and the reception are free and open to the public.
How did you come up with the idea for (the Painting Safe)?
My wife (Pam) and I both paint, and we were packing wagons and spending an hour or two setting up just to paint. I thought I needed to come up with something lighter and quicker. Now, I can pack up all of her stuff and my stuff in one cart.
Why did you want to find a way to keep your paint moist when you were done painting?
One of the things they tell you is “paint like a millionaire.” What that means is don’t be so stingy with your paint. Bring enough out there with you so you have plenty to mix it with. I figured if I could figure out a way to preserve paint, that would be great.
How did you get started painting?
I’ve always drawn, but my earliest memories of a competition came when I was 12. My bus driver saw a painting I was working on and said I should enter it in the county fair. I was kind of shy and didn’t want to do it, but you could win money, so I did it. I didn’t expect anything from it. A week later, I went to the fair and couldn’t find my painting, it wasn’t hanging on the wall. But then I find it in a glass showcase laying next to a blue ribbon.
What is your working process like?
I have a studio in Shelbyville and a studio at home. My studio at home is where I do most of my painting. I’ll set up a couple of these boxes, with a mirror in front of me and a mirror behind me, so that I can get a fresh eye when I look at the work in the mirrors.
With the paintings you do, is there a subject matter or style you’re drawn to?
Impressionism. That’s why I use the mirrors to paint, to see it from a distance. A lot of times, I’ve been painting portraits for so long, you get focused on the details. If you show them one, they all see the same thing. But if you show them an impressionistic painting, their mind does a lot of things to complete the painting.
What will you be showing at the Southside Art League?
I’m guessing I’ll show about 30 paintings. I’m going to try to bring new stuff or stuff that hasn’t been shown somewhere else. I hang in the Brown County Art Gallery, and I’m in the Brown County Art Guild. I have a half-dozen paintings in each of those, so I wanted to take something people haven’t seen.
— Compiled by Ryan Trares