Pederson's earlier works have explored subject matter of a very different variety. Influenced by her studies at the Scottsdale Artists' School and her travels in New Mexico and Arizona, those paintings primarily depicted scenes of the Southwest. The pieces currently on display at the CAC represent a radical shift in point of view.
"When I moved to Kentucky I really wanted to do something about this region, about the eastern woods," Pederson said. "I love the quality of light here. It's much more humid here than it is out west, so it really makes for softer light."
The paintings in "Kentucky Wildlife," rendered in understated colors with detailed, fluid brushstrokes, convey that softness.
Pederson has a background in pencil illustration and photography, but in the three years in which she has been painting, she has moved away from that style in favor of a more muted, impressionistic technique. She credits the influence of other contemporary landscape painters and the atmosphere of the Arizona artist community for this change.
Jim Morgan, whose less-detailed pictures are characterized by broad brushstrokes and colorful shapes, was a major influence, as was James Reynolds, a cowboy artist from Colorado, whose book "Trail Dust" is one of Pederson's favorites. Vestiges of Reynolds' style are especially evident in the buffalo paintings now on display at the CAC.
"I often look at James Reynolds' work to solve problems in my own painting," Pederson said.
When Pederson works she generally paints the landscape in person, trying to get a feel for the light.
"The animals usually move around too much to paint from life," she explained. "So I spend time watching them, observing their interactions and behaviors."
Her show includes images of deer, buffalo, geese, a wildcat, a snapping turtle, a black bear, an eagle and a squirrel - most painted from photographs after intense study of their movements and mannerisms.
Pederson approaches her art with an eye for detail and an appreciation for the beauty that is often overlooked. She hopes her art will inspire people in the region to take a closer look at the natural magnificence of the environment around them, to "gain a respect and love for the beauty of Kentucky, and, when possible, act to preserve our state."
Pederson's "Kentucky Wildlife" exhibit will be displayed and for sale at the CAC throughout October. In November and December she will be showing another collection of wildlife paintings at First Presbyterian Church in Lexington. In March, a new batch of her artwork will be on display at The Gallery 916 in Bowling Green. Her work continues to evolve, as she maintains her studies with a variety of local and Southwestern artists, but she has enjoyed painting this series of wildlife portraits and hopes they convey some of the animals' "unique beauty" to the viewer.
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If you go
"Kentucky Wildlife" by Toni Pederson will be on display in the Grand Hall at the Community Arts Center, 401 W. Main St., throughout the month of October. For more information, call (859) 236-4054, log on to www.communityartscenter.net or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.