He admires artists such as Cézanne, Balthus and Harold.
If Harold doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because Harold is a children’s book character who uses a purple crayon and his imagination to doodle endless adventures.
“I love this idea of inventing your world with pencil or, in my case, oil pastels,” said 47-year-old Spokane artist Peter Presnail.
Presnail, who works part-time at Twenty-Ninth Avenue Art Works, a framing studio on South Hill, has been building her art world since college. Now his works can be found in galleries across the country, from Seattle to his home state of Minnesota. From Friday to May 4, he will present his work at the Dean Davis Gallery in downtown Spokane.
“I think it’s kind of a variety of things” that make her art unique, said Deb Sheldon, owner of Twenty-Ninth Avenue Art Works and fellow artist. “His art is very well done…and he has a wonderful eye. There’s also something about the colors and the way they fit together that gives you a good feeling.
Before his paintings ended up on the walls of exhibition halls, Presnail observed art in galleries and museums. When he attended the Art Institute of Chicago, he had easy access to the painting havens just across the street.
“You can really focus on a few works of art and really immerse yourself in them,” Presnail said of art in museums and galleries.
Although Presnail’s specialty was painting, he dabbled in pottery in college. Now he sticks to creating pots on canvas.
“I was more of a frustrated potter than a good potter, but I was always interested in the process,” he said.
Because he doesn’t shape his own, Presnail has to pick up his stimulating memorabilia from his travels to various countries, such as Malaysia, New Zealand, and Colombia.
“I find that when I travel it can inspire a body of work, not directly or immediately, but maybe even years later,” he said.
For example, his portrait of a pair of cows is a recreation of a photograph he encountered.
“I thought it would be kind of fun to do these cows,” Presnail said. “A lot of it is about finding pictures in boxes and picture boxes.”
While some of his paintings are portraits of real places he has seen or creatures that have crossed his path, others are pure inventions and abstractions.
“A lot of it is putting colors on and seeing how they develop that way,” Presnail said.
Patchwork purples and deep blues paired with greens and reds are just a few pieces of the artistic jigsaw that bring Presnail’s work to life, Sheldon said.
“From an artist’s perspective, I appreciate the beautiful works of art they create,” she said, “and as a person, I appreciate the images and feelings that colors provide you.”
Presnail also finds humor in associating academia with a bunch of subconscious doodles. He creates these combos in an effort to make viewers think outside of the frame.
“That’s the thing with art: sometimes it’s hard to verbalize your reaction. I know that in a museum, when I come out of the museum, I see things differently,” Presnail said. “My goal is for people to see the world a little differently and notice things they might not notice.”
Another of Presnail’s goals is to give his art a good home.
“Unlike corporate collections that just hang in offices, I really appreciate people who like to live with my art” in their homes, he said.