Sunset at Tower Road, oil on canvas, 11" x 14"
"I love that moment when the sun dips behind a cloud low
in the sunset or just when it goes below the horizon. The landscape
lights up with a glow - a response. It's an inner light, tangible." -R.T.
On view July 28th – September 23rd at Signs of Life Gallery:
over 60 works by Rodney Troth, a Baldwin City artist who captures
the color and splendor of the Kansas landscape in both abstraction
Baldwin artist Rodney Troth captures the unique beauty of the
Kansas landscape with both the emotive forms of abstraction
and the detailed specificity of realism. Each area of visual
expression reflects his passion for learning to see the natural
world with both his heart and his mind.
This dynamic between freeform geometric shapes and faithful
representations of the landscape first took root while Troth
was studying architecture at the University of Kansas. He enrolled
in a painting class taught by Robert Sudlow, one of Kansas’ most
celebrated artists, and became enraptured while watching Sudlow paint the plains,
prairies, and hills of Kansas, a fascination that inspired him to take Sudlow’s
class for several years in a row. Although he eventually left KU his senior year,
Troth continued studying with Sudlow while working in construction and as a purchasing
manager for a local irrigation products company, often accompanying him out into
the Flint Hills to paint side by side. Sudlow also encouraged Troth to read the
Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, a classic manual of traditional Chinese
brushwork that teaches artists to respond to what they see intuitively, as if
having a conversation with the landscape.
It was also during this time that Troth discovered Abstract
Expressionists like Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, and Mark
Rothko, and began experimenting with the creative possibilities
of Abstract Expressionism, an art movement that emphasized automatic,
gestural expressions. It is perhaps Rothko’s works that seem
to surface the most in Troth’s strata paintings, which feature bands of
color that seem to hum together with their bold hues and softly uneven edges.
Troth’s strata paintings and realistic landscapes aren't unrelated; often
the bars of color in his abstract works mimic segments of land-and-sky horizons
in his larger-than-life landscapes, which include oil-on-canvas works, watercolors,
and chalk drawings. He finds the inspiration to create both types of work during
his drives out into the Flint Hills or to areas south of Clinton Lake, where
he stops and makes sketches of different spots, eventually settling in one place
to plunge in and paint the natural beauty around him. “I let the day dictate
the palette,” he says. Additionally, Troth enjoys visiting museums where
he studies works by Old Masters; he has spent hours in front of the Monet paintings
at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Troth’s adeptness in both abstraction and realism reflects
his fascination with fully capturing the beauty of the Kansas
landscape, where the passage of time, changing lights, and vivid
colors create an endless source of inspiration.