Painting passion onto canvas

Hamline professor wins American Art Award for Irish landscape.


Sabrina Merritt

Andrew Wykes is an award winning painter and professor at Hamline.

Sabrina Merritt, reporter

Sabrina Merritt
“Killara Bay, Mayo, Ireland” (2013) won first place in the 2018 American Art Award landscape painting category.

It is an exciting time for professional painter and Hamline faculty member Andrew Wykes. This September, the Studio Arts and Art History professor was awarded first place in the 2018 American Art Award landscape painting category. The winning painting, “Killara Bay, Mayo, Ireland” is a mixed-media piece demonstrating Wykes’ interest in perception and the semi-abstract.

Wykes, who largely deals with landscapes, finds himself most often painting the places he lives. As a fellow with the Ballinglen Art Foundation, Wykes spends his summers painting in rural Ireland. While the winning piece was painted in his studio in Minnesota, small sketches from the location, as well as snippets of  Wykes’ own memory inspired the larger work. The painting, which consists of four canvases covered in paper, ink and acrylic paint, was finished in 2013 after two months of on and off work.

“It’s a painting about the process of building an artwork,” Wykes said. To him, the painting shows the procedure an artist goes through to create. The actual landscape in Ireland was deeply impacted by the Irish potato famine nearly 200 years ago, and according to Wykes, it is still a low-income area.

“It’s a very unspoiled landscape in County Mayo,” Wykes stated. “It has remained very poor, undeveloped and yet very beautiful.”

Wykes was one of 300 artists awarded an American Art Award this year. The award’s advisory board is made up of publishers, collectors and artists involved with various mediums. Applicants of artists and galleries apply to respected categories in the spring, with winners announced between September and October.

Winning the award has not changed how Wykes views his piece, even though, “it is always nice to get something.” Wykes enjoys painting as he feels lucky to see the world the way he does.

“I used to think everyone saw color the way I see it and got immense joy from color. But I realized not everyone does,” said Wykes.

He believes visual intelligence is something often overlooked in colleges, despite being a skill many people can achieve. Moving away from viewing art as a hobby and towards skill and intellect. This is why he has taught “The Only Time I Feel Alive is When I’m Painting,” a First-Year Seminar (FYSem) inspired by a Vincent van Gogh quote, five times. His FYSem analyses the painters we all know while also exposing students to new artists.

This passion for painting caught the attention of the artist, professor and filmmaker Kristen Lowe for the 2013 documentary “Painting the Place Between.” Lowe’s film focuses on the relationship between the artist, the viewer and the landscape of a painting. Wykes, along with three other painters, explores how these aspects can bring out emotional responses. The documentary has been broadcasted numerous times in the past five years and was even shown at a viewing event at Twin Cities Public Television station in downtown St. Paul on Sept. 29.

Wykes will also be involved with Lowe’s sequel to the film. While work on the film began this year, Wykes stated funding is still needed.