Vicki Asp

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Portrait of an Artist: Vicki Asp


One of the marks of good art is an absence of apparent effort. Whether
watching dance or viewing a painting, when we can lose ourselves in the magic of the
creation without a distracting awareness of the mind-bending or backbreaking work
involved in the making of it, we’re in the presence of a master. Artist Vicki Asp’s sense
of awe for the beauty of the world, a well-developed work ethic and twenty years of daily
honoring her craft have brought that level of mastery to her vivid and luminous
landscapes. Vicki was always an artist, but only began to focus on her art in her early
twenties.
“My husband was in the military and he was gone a lot. I was at home with the
kids. Painting was a great ‘out’ for me. Art was my vacation.” Wherever her husband’s
career sent her, Vicki not only continued to paint, but seriously pursued an education in
art. She studied portraiture at Olympic Community College in Washington, oil painting
and animal painting at the Tulsa Triangle Art Center in Oklahoma, watercolor,
portraiture and drawing at Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community College
in Virginia and landscape, color theory and acrylic painting at American River
Community College in Sacramento. As a personal challenge, Vicki entered her work in
art shows from Virginia to California, generating more than 75 awards in local, regional,
and international competition.
At American River College, instructor Gary Pruner offered to help Vicki in refining
her work. “He’s a fabulous artist and a great teacher. He gave me great
encouragement, but never tried to change me. He took me from where I was and
pushed me further.” It was her time at American River College that Vicki started
working on her landscapes.
“I was doing some surrealistic art then, and landscapes are king of surreal. I got
started, but I felt like I just couldn’t do it. When I see things they just awe me. Anything
I looked at was just too grand for me to paint. The world is so beautiful, and how could I
ever convey all of that?

My paintings were always too dark. But I kept going out intothe open and painting.It took me a couple of years, and then they started to get lighter.
I was starting to be able to show the color and light that I saw.”
Light and color suffuse Vicki’s work. Some artists can capture a picture of a
place, creating a photorealistic image. Vicki’s work has the magical quality of recalling
not only the look but the feeling of a place, giving the sense that if you stepped closer to
the canvas, you could smell the earth, and feel the warmth of the sunlight. The effect
maybe magical, but the actual process of creation is plain hard labor.
Vicki specializes in plein air painting, creating small studies on location, and then
recreating and enlarging them at home in her studio. “There’s something that
photographs can’t catch. The light and feeling are different. I have to paint on site to
capture what is in front of me. When I see something that awes me, I go out with the
mission to paint it. The actual work is non-thinking, taking in what’s coming in through
my eyes and putting it on the canvas. Sometimes I don’t get it right. If I don’t get it right
the first time, I have to go back and get it again. Even when it doesn’t work, I have the
experience of the attempt. I think that if I can’t translate what I see, I have to learn more
about it. So I observe more.”
“I have one piece that I worked on for three days of Sailor Bar on the American
River. I couldn’t get a riffle of water right. I’m accustomed to doing still water, but on
the first day the light kept shifting because clouds were passing over. When the light
changed, the whole aspect was different, and that just made me crazy. I must have
painted that a dozen times. My friends kept saying ‘Oh, no! She’s doing it again!’ But I
told myself I wouldn’t let it beat me. I kept going back until I got it right.” Vick’s acute
sense of place and observation, and her perseverance in conveying this in her art make
her one of Northern California’s most impressive landscape painters. Her work
captures the essence of the rivers, hills and agricultural areas of the state, as well as
the spots other painter’s overlook, where she sees beauty even in everyday things.
“There’s something about the feel of a place. When you’re out there, you’re painting the

spot, but you’re looking up, down, right, left and the feeling comes through on the
canvas. This world is such a beautiful place. I’m in awe every day.”

Vicki Asp