Courtesy of Russell Horton
On Nov. 6, Baker University Assistant Professor Art Russell Horton won “Best Landscape Artist of the Year” from the annual Art Comes Alive 2021 competition. The Art Comes Alive Competition is hosted by Art Design Consultants, a company that owns two galleries in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to their website, ADCfineart defines their competition as a place where artists can get connected with other artists as well as potential buyers.
“The main objective of the exhibit is to award artists for their dedication to their craft and exceptional work, connect them with the appropriate people in the art business for networking opportunities, and find new artwork in all mediums and subjects to showcase and ultimately sell,” ADCfineart said on their website.
While Horton has always had a passion for art since he was 12-years-old and took classes all through his education, he didn’t start to teach art until he was 49-years-old. Before working as a professor of art, Horton was a museum exhibition designer and preparator. As a preparator, Horton gathered different pieces to put together a museum exhibit. Then he decided to make a career change and pursue a Master of Fine Arts from Clemson University.
Horton’s first job was at Emporia State as an adjunct professor and then in 2015 became an adjunct professor at Baker, teaching drawing.
Horton has submitted his artwork to other competitions in the past but this was his first time submitting a piece into the Art Comes Alive competition.
“I decided to enter because it looked like it was a good show. The people there had a lot of connections with potential buyers of art. And I said ‘yeah why not? I’ll go for it,’” Horton said.
On Nov. 5, Horton traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio for the artist reception. On Saturday Nov. 6 he attended the awards ceremony, where he won Best Landscape Artist of the Year and received a $100 prize.
The painting submitted by Horton was titled “Wakarusa Wetlands Pond,” named after the Baker Wetlands.
“I was interested in it because the Wetlands themselves are a flatscape, you have interruptions with reeds and water here and there,” Horton said. “But at the same time you have these hills in the background coming up out of the valley and provides the landscape with a little bit of height. I was interested in that sort of transition from flat to hilly.”
Studio Art major Senior Talon Strouhal thinks very highly of Horton and knows that he cares for all his students. Strouhal describes him as a realistic artist.
“Although he paints clearly and realistically, he can also experiment and try new techniques. As he is teaching us his techniques, he is learning new ones as well,” Strouhal said.
Strouhal has taken seven classes with Horton and has learned many things from him about being an artist. One thing she’s learned is that it is important in art to work hard because that’s when you’ll be rewarded most often. She also has received advice from Horton about being an artist.
“Do not be afraid to try new methods and techniques. Ask for help when you need it. Critiques can be hard, but they often help you see things that you have not seen before,” Strouhal said.
Usually, Horton paints landscapes that he is familiar with and has seen multiple times, and those are the pieces he mostly submits to contests.
“What I often tell people is that I’m a painter of my surroundings. Usually, I’ll go past a scene or something that I want to paint three or fours times and I’ll say ‘you know I gotta get around to painting that’,” Horton said.
Horton is proud of his work and is glad that it is hanging up in the gallery in Ohio. Currently “Wakarusa Wetlands Pond” is for sale at the gallery and is available to potential buyers. Mostly Horton is proud of the connections that come with competing in Art Comes Alive.
“[It means] prestige, especially with an outfit like Art Design Consultants in Cincinnati. It’s notoriety, it gets my name out there,” Horton said.
Horton also talks about how he feels as an artist when his paintings go up for sale in a gallery and he no longer has ownership of them.
“I have my experience with it in the studio and I enjoy that experience and I’ve seen it develop and immersed in it as it comes to life. Then when it goes to a gallery, it doesn’t feel like mine anymore, because my experience with it is done, it’s time for somebody else to interact with it,” Horton said.
After his win, Horton still is continuing his art and even is getting back into some abstract work, a style he previously worked with.
“I never stop playing in the studio, it’s my favorite place to be,” Horton said.