By Kate Hill
On Aug. 2, New Woodstock resident and fine artist Daniel K. Tennant was awarded the grand prize in the 2019 Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors (ANEAW) — an annual show held at VIEW arts center in Old Forge, NY.
The ANEAW is open to all artists working in water-based media, including transparent and opaque watercolors, acrylics, casein, egg tempera, gouache and ink.
On display at VIEW through Sept. 29, the exhibition includes around 90 paintings selected from 449 submissions.
The selected entries were painted by artists from 26 states, Washington D.C. and two Canadian provinces.
Tennant’s painting, titled “A Hard Working Man,” was awarded the $2,500 Beechmont First & Gold Medallion prize.
The painting was one of 27 entries to receive an award.
“A Hard Working Man” depicts Tennant’s friend John Steffan — a farmer and a well-known New Woodstock resident — standing in his barn.
When first envisioning the painting, Tennant had no intention of including Steffan.
His focus was on capturing the look and feel of the barn interior.
“I walked by his farm each evening on my daily walk and was always captivated when the light was golden and it illuminated the interior of the barn,” Tennant said. “The hay glowed and it had such a warm, comfortable feel to it.”
Ultimately, however, the artist decided to introduce a figure to the painting to balance the composition.
“I had it all figured out long before I started the drawing and painting,” Tennant explained.
A notable feature of the painting, according Tennant, is the farmer’s “odd” right hand.
In the mid 1960s, Steffan nearly lost his fingers when his hand became caught in a piece of machinery. Although a surgeon was able to repair the hand, Steffan never regained full mobility in his fingers.
“John was tough,” Tennant concluded.
The artist completed his 28″ x 46″ painting over the course of about two months, dedicating between 90 and 100 hours to its completion.
Tennant has competed in ANEAW seven times over the past 30 years.
He also served as a judge in 2003 and 2018.
He has won a total of 11 ANEAW awards, including five People’s Choice awards.
“The most satisfying [recognition] has been winning the People’s Choice award,” Tennant said. “That award lets me know . . . that my work resonates with viewers.”
Tennant graduated from Cazenovia High School, where he studied under nationally recognized watercolorist Merrill A. Bailey (1909-1981).
He continued his art education at Syracuse University, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor of fine arts in painting and an master of science in art education.
Tennant went on to become a high school art teacher, instructing students at the Bainbridge-Guilford High School in Chenango County for 32 years.
The painter has been recognized as one of the most technically proficient artists working in gouache (opaque watercolors) today.
His 2010 book, “Realistic Painting” (Walter Foster Publishing) has sold 35,000 copies.
His artwork has appeared on book covers and in magazines, books, calendars and limited edition prints.
In addition, his work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the country and is in permanent museum collections, as well as private and corporate collections in the United States and abroad.
The artist paints from his own photographs and after establishing an image on museum board, he begins adding paint — starting with the background and working towards the foreground.
He also works from dark to light.
“Objects are painted darker . . . in the under-painting and then lightened as I put in the middle tones; the last things I paint are the brightest areas and highlights,” he explained.
Tennant has worked exclusively in gouache since 1979.
“I was never introduced to gouache [at Syracuse University],” Tennant said. “It has been all trial and error for me.”
The artist views gouache as the ideal medium for drawing lines and adding detail. It also dries quickly and, due to its matte finish, photographs beautifully he said.
Left unvarnished, a gouache painting will last longer than an oil painting if properly framed behind glass/Plexiglas and displayed away from direct sunlight.
The biggest drawback of the medium, according to Tennant, is the fact that the colors alter as they dry — dark colors dry lighter and light colors dry darker.
“I have recommended gouache to others and they get frustrated and most of the time they don’t like it, [but] it fits my way of thinking as an artist perfectly,” he said.
To view and learn more about Tennant’s work, visit danielktennant.com.
To learn more about View, visit viewarts.org.