A Tireless PURSUIT

By Fauntleroy, Gussie | Southwest Art, August 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Tireless PURSUIT

Fauntleroy, Gussie, Southwest Art

Shanna Kunz finds quiet beauty in landscapes of the West

A CONFLUENCE of challenging circumstances surged over painter Shanna Kunz's life a few years back. The stumbling economy, the end of her first marriage, and other difficult issues coincided to leave her standing waist-deep in question marks. Should she continue pushing on with what had been a successful and growing career as a landscape artist? Or should she shuffle the cards and pull out plan B, whatever that might be?

"Things got really hard, and I was at a turning point as to whether to keep on this [artistic] journey. I made a huge, door-die decision," she relates, sitting in the kitchen of her 1918 Arts and Crafts-style bungalow in Ogden, UT, just a stone's throw from where she was born.

The 48-year-old artist is quiet for a moment, remembering that turning point in herlife as she gazes out the kitchen window at the mountain peaks just east of Ogden. Downstairs in the cozy basement-turnedstudio, four paintings from a current series await her attention. They are testament to the commitment she made two years ago: She swallowed her doubts and applied to take part in the juried, three-month-long Celebration of Fine Art, a festival in Scottsdale, AZ, where artists set up working studios that are open to the public It was a decision that changed her life.

LONG BEFORE Kunz had any notion of becoming an artist, it was clear that the natural world would always be a central part of her life. Her father worked for the U.S. Forest Service, and the family spent as much time camping and fly-fishing as possible. Moving every 18 months until Shanna was 16, they lived in Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah, expanding their experience of mountains, lakes, and forests with each new place. When her father's job landed them in urban settings in Delaware and San Francisco, museums - both history and art- became the family's territory to explore.

"Whenever we were living far away from Utah, my parents made it like a vacation. Every weekend we'd go somewhere, and we'd always visit museums," Kunz recalls. "We got to see more than most people do." As a result she developed a passion for history and art, as well as mountains and woods.

Living in Utah again as a teen, Kunz finished high school, studied business at Weber State College in Ogden, married young, and had two children. At age 29 she took her first watercolor painting class. "I picked up a paintbrush and I knew. I called my mom and said, ? know what I want to be when I grow up]'" she recounts, laughing. Working in the uncompromising medium of watercolor - which she did for 10 years before switching primarily to oils - was excellent training for learning to plan compositions and make good decisions before beginning a painting, she notes.

After four years of self-teaching and painting "obsessively," as she puts it, Kunz realized she needed more professional instruction. "I knew that if I wanted to paint the way I envisioned, I needed to go back to school," she says. She enrolled in a fine-art program at Utah State University, focusing on the figure in drawing and painting. She loved portraying the human form, yet once again it was her own selfdirected study that changed her path. The new direction led to landscape painting and eventually to her tonalist style with its contemplative, atmospheric feel.

Every two weeks while in college, Kunz would go to the school library and pull out a stack of art books. She would take them home and pour through them in her own personal program of art history study. In this way she stumbled upon the paintings of George Inness, which led her to three American landscape painters in particular - Dwight W. Tryon, John Henry Twachtman, and James Whistler - whose work caught her eye. "They were all quiet, minimalist, subtle painters," she observes. By the end of her third year at Utah State, she was painting landscapes. And she never looked back.

"Studying art history was absolutely instrumental," she affirms.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Tireless PURSUIT


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?