When Roy Boswell leaves his house in the morning, he never knows where inspiration might hit.
It could come from a simple birdhouse standing in a garden or a set of worn tire tracks heading into a wooded meadow. Maybe it’s an old rusted truck on a side yard, the corner of a dark barn or the burst of color from a display of flowers.
He knows he has to be ready. So he keeps his supplies — an easel, some paint and a camera — close by.
Boswell has used his love of the forms and function of the outdoors to enhance his artwork. Painting in the plein air style, he finds unique and interesting scenery in the natural world around him.
When he does, he sets up his easel and paints and gets to work right on the spot.
“Being outside all day was like being on the farm, only I didn’t have to do all of that physical labor,” he said.
The Franklin resident has work included in this year’s Hoosier Salon exhibit, as well as an upcoming show at the John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington.
Boswell didn’t always dream of being an artist. When he was young, his initial plan was to be an architect. He was drawn to the style of rural houses and buildings, how the lines came together in unique ways.
As he grew older, he morphed that into landscape architecture. Not until he was attending Purdue University did he first start paying attention to artistry when a professor suggested he try watercolor.
Now working primarily in oil and pastels, Boswell’s work has been shown at the Richmond Art Museum, the Historic Brown County Art Gallery and at Madison’s Art on Main.
This is his second time in the Hoosier Salon. The exhibit runs through Sept. 28 at the Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis. The show is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $7 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and $5 for children ages 5 to 17.
Boswell’s works also will be featured at the John Waldron Arts Center, 122 S. Walnut St., Bloomington, opening Friday. An opening reception will be 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, and the exhibit is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Sept. 28.
When did you start with the plein air painting?
It was two summers ago, in Richmond, when I was doing my first paint-out. As soon as I did it, I realized this was what I wanted to do. I grew up on a farm in southeastern Indiana, and being out there in the middle of nowhere, there’s only barns and old houses. I got interested in architecture at an early age.
What are the tricks to finding the right place to paint plein air?
It’s always being aware and looking what’s around you. People rarely look. It’s all there all the time, but it’s hard to notice it because there is so much going on all the time. I go all over the state to paint. Right now I have a farm here in Franklin where I go three or four times a week to paint.
What did it mean to be included in the Hoosier Salon this year?
It’s an honor. There are a lot of people who are really good artists that don’t make it in. I’ve been lucky. The last two years I’ve gotten my paintings in. It’s the luck of the draw, because it’s selection by committee. One might like your stuff, and the others might not. You have to keep that in mind when you apply to one of these shows.
What are the stories behind the two paintings you have in the show this year?
“Night Watch” comes from our backyard in Franklin. One of the first things I noticed when we moved here was our backyard is really small.
There is this row of trees that separate the back of the house from a field. Each tree has so much character. They each have a unique shape. So I went out and painted it every night when we moved in.
“A Hot Dirty Dance” isn’t really a provocative painting. I did it in New Harmony, down on the Wabash River where it meets the Ohio.
There was a field that looked like it had been farmed maybe 10 years ago, but they stopped.So it was growing up with saplings and things like that.
There was a old row of trees that was really washed out, like it had flooded recently. There was a light coming across, and there was this dance of light going across these trees in their muddy glory.