Sportsman’s Gallery Artists in Residence

Peggy Watkins, "Honey In The Sun," oil, 12” x 16”, 2005

by Brooke Chilvers

You would think, with tourists doing their best to stay home, that business in the sporting art world would suffer. But Michael Paderewski reports that, au contraire, interest has been surprisingly good during Covid 2020, and he’s full speed ahead with his “Artists in Residence” this coming weekend in his Charleston, SC Sportsman’s Gallery.

The owner of fine art and sporting art galleries in Charleston, SC and Beaver Creek, CO explained: “I can only think that it was due to many clients staying home and ‘nesting’ a bit, with the time to feed their collecting habits.” He also attributes this renewed attention to art to the strong real estate market that generates many folks decorating new homes. In fact, he’s just opened a new gallery in Nashville, TN.

Michael has invited two “dog artists” as his Artists in Residence – Julie Jeppsen and Peggy Watkins – at his Charleston gallery, this coming weekend: February 12th  to 14th.

Jeppsen irish red
Julie Jeppsen, Irish Red, Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 36″, 2020

“We’ve done our ‘Artists in Residence’ program for years, at all of the galleries,” explained Michael. “We invite artists for as short as a weekend, and others have stayed six weeks in Colorado to enjoy the summer. The object is for them to use the gallery as a remote studio that allows them to paint and interact with clients.”

Patrons have a unique opportunity to ask questions about the artist’s background, discuss influences, or possible commissions, all while seeing the artist at work… how the artist develops a canvas, and the techniques and palette the artist uses.

Self-taught artist Julie Jeppsen, for example, started to draw “as soon as I could hold a pencil.” By 14, she was selling her work to pay for entry fees in rodeo events, such as the National High School Rodeo Finals in which she successfully competed. 

Covid-19 has not been too confining for Julie, who is used to hiking in the wilderness, seeking out wildlife “on their home turf.” 

Julie Jeppsen, German Shorthair Pointer, oil on canvas, 14″ x 18″

“Being outdoors inspires me to paint,” says Julie, whose mother is also an artist and whose father studied anatomy in order to develop pure bred dogs. The influences of both are shown in her ability to capture the spirit of her subjects in Irish Red and German Shorthair Pointer that she is finishing up now. 

“Covid-19 has kept me closer to home, to the people I love, and to what I love to do, which is to paint. I live on a ranch in rural Montana, so I can ride horses and remain socially distant, like I had prior to the pandemic. I do miss the events and meeting people, but as an artist, it has allowed me to stay in my studio and knock out a lot of great pieces.”

Julie also exhibits at the Russell Show in Great Falls, MT and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE), where she has been a featured artist, in Charleston, SC.

Peggy Watkins was born into a Navy family that took her to many places both Stateside and abroad.  She does not need to travel far from home to meet with Charleston-bound patrons, as she lives in town and on a farm near Beaufort, SC that is managed for ducks and other wetland wildlife.

Peggy Watkins, Ready!, oil, 20” x 20”

Although Michael points out that meeting personally with artists “can also lead to wonderful hunts and fishing trips that also provide the artists with great opportunities to gather photographic reference material for future paintings,” Peggy’s life has been graced with extensive travel to the world’s greatest wing shooting paradises, as well as wild places such as Yellowstone, Alaska, Scotland, and Africa.

Peggy calls her style impressionistic realism, and it is characterized by bold color and strong brushwork. “I want the viewer to lose themselves in the scene and never tire of viewing it,” she explained. Her personal favorite from her work since she began exhibiting and selling in 2003 is Honey In The Sun (2005). “It is simple but effective in depicting light, place and intensity of the dog,” she explains.

What effect has Covid had on her work? “As an artist, I am naturally alone much of the time. I do, however, miss the travel and meeting people and their dogs. Covid has created more virtual contact with people seeking art, beauty perhaps to fill the gap created by the new normal.”

Discussing her just finished oil painting Ready!, she notes with a smile: “I did not think about it at the time, but it reflects the indoors! A more subdued palette using colorful grays.”

The featured artist at the 2008 Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, Peggy’s work can also be found on the walls of gunmakers Holland & Holland in their London and Dallas showrooms. In 2020 she was selected to be a judge for the 2020-2021 Federal Duck Contest.

“We will get to visit in person sometime very soon,” wrote Michael in his last email. “This has to come to an end soon!”

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Brooke Chilvers first fell in love with Charleston in winter 1976/77, while studying ornithology at The Citadel and working Happy Hour at Charleston’s White Horse Saloon.