September Vhay Biography
Jackson Hole artist September Vhay is an impressive talent in animal art. She
has recently been chosen by Southwest Art to be in the '21 over 31 artists
with careers to watch' and also won the Trustee's Purchase Award at the
National Museum of Wildlife Art's Miniatures Exhibit. She has shown her work
at prestigious national shows such as 'Birds in Art', the National Museum of
Wildlife Art's Western Visions Exhibit, The American Academy of Equine Art,
The Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and The American Watercolor Society. She has
won numerous awards in the last five Ex Arte Equinus International Equine Art
Her work is classic in subject matter and technique and at the same time modern
in her composition and minimal approach. Backgrounds drop away so that her
muted earthen palette can evoke the very essence of an animal. Her paintings
are realistic in form and detail, yet they possess an impressionistic aura as well,
a looseness that adds a sensitive dimension. Speaking about her work, Vhay
says, "My challenge and subsequent reward is to reorder reality by distilling
it to its essence. It is in this essence where the truth of subject lies. Beauty
resides in this truth. It is a pleasure to seek out this essence and to share it with
others." A largely self-taught artist, Vhay's formal training is in architecture. She
received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon in
1993. She subsequently moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where she worked
in architecture for ten years and painted in her spare time. Her understanding of
structure, composition, and light—so crucial in architecture—give her paintings a
sense of three-dimensional form.
In addition to architecture, she was influenced by the work of her great-
grandfather Guzton Borglum, who is famous for sculpting Mount Rushmore and
other prominent national monuments. It was his, comparatively, smaller-scale
work that Vhay most admired. Initially Vhay worked exclusively in watercolor
influenced by professors from the Royal Academy of Copenhagen, where she
studied architecture in 1991. In 1992, she was awarded the Rosenberg Traveling
Scholarship, which allowed her to travel to Scotland to study and paint the
buildings of famous watercolor painter and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Vhay says, "Watercolor painting is spontaneous and unpredictable. There is
always an element of risk as alterations are difficult if not impossible to make.
These aspects make it a challenging, yet exciting medium. It is a balance of
careful planning, jumping in, and then knowing when to let go."
Now devoted full-time to painting, Vhay has expanded her media to include oils.
Because of her skill with watercolor, she seamlessly achieves the freshness of
watercolor with the saturation of color only possible in oils. One of her mentors,
the award-winning painter Scott Christensen says, "September really gets the
subtle transitions and separations of warm and cool colors, and how they merge.
She understands the characteristics of light."
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