Celebrating Wildlife Art & the Sporting Life

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Meet Jason Tako

ABOUT THE FEATURED ARTIST

SEWE announces its Featured Artist and painting for the 2020 event, marking 38 years of excellence in wildlife art, conservation and the sporting life. Jason Tako (pronounced TAKE-O) has been named the 2020 event’s Featured Artist. His painting, The Road Less Traveled, has been selected as the Featured Painting and subject of the official SEWE 2020 poster.

“At its core, SEWE desires to present the finest wildlife art available. With that in mind, Jason Tako was an obvious choice for the 2020 Featured Artist. Jason’s western paintings are unmatched, and it is a privilege to showcase his work” says SEWE Art Curator, Natalie Henderson.

Jason Tako is in the unique category of being one of the few plein air artists who paints animals from life, and one of the few wildlife artists who paints en plein air. “I have only understood that drawing and painting from life was the best way to learn,” Jason says. The soul of Jason’s artwork has its origins in the wetlands and prairie areas of Minnesota. “Heading outdoors long before sunrise, I would spend hours in a duck blind just watching and listening. Those moments are with me to this day,” he adds.

“I was stunned for a while and couldn’t really do anything for several hours until it sunk in,” he replied when asked his feelings on what it was like to be selected as the 2020 Featured Artist. “Then there was the feeling of paranoia when I realized the quality of work I would need to create to live up to the honor.” Jason, who lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Rebecca and their five children, also added, “My wife and children were really excited for me and encouraged me to accept it.”

“With the artists present and engaging with collectors during SEWE week people often refer to the connections and relationships made here in Charleston,” Powell adds. “For those of us fortunate to view Jason Tako’s collection at SEWE 2020, I believe his work will connect all of us and tell a story about the love we share for the outdoors and our traditions.”

ABOUT THE FEATURED PAINTING

The Road Less Traveled depicts two big horned sheep in western North Dakota.

We asked Jason about the inspiration and process behind the concept and creation of the 2020 featured painting:

“Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota is a beautiful place teaming with wildlife, but the fact that it’s been rarely painted makes it a hidden treasure that I wanted to show the world. Having been raised in rural Minnesota, I have always felt a connection with more isolated and unknown places. And for me, this area represents that. The Road Less Traveled was inspired by several trips my family and I made to this relatively unknown and restful place. The landscape depicts the north unit, which has some of the most dramatic landscape in all the park. Bighorn Sheep can also be spotted here if one is fortunate enough.”

“Since you cannot have wildlife without habitat, I wanted a piece that told as much about the landscape as the animals in the landscape. I also wanted this to be a scene that any person would enjoy viewing. From a compositional perspective, the darks of the buttes bring out the strong back lighting on the sheep, which are making their way down into the canyon. The diagonal shapes are meant to give a downward movement to emphasize the height of the sheep’s location. The upper left, which acts as a type of window, also shows the height of the sheep and the vastness of the western landscape. The foreground rocks and grass were painted with thick impasto paint to help give them a three-dimensional feel and push the rest of the scene into the distance.”

A vast amount of land is shown without any sign of human development. The sheep feel almost isolated and we are privileged to be able to witness their untouched refuge. These are the types of emotions I’m given in a place like this. My hope is that the viewer will be able to make a similar connection and perhaps be inspired by The Road Less Traveled.

Tako’s original painting will be available at auction during the VIP Signature Gala and Sale, February 13, 2020. Purchase the Official 2020 Poster is here.>>

More about Jason:

The soul of Jason Tako’s highly sought after artwork has its origins in the wetlands and prairie areas of Minnesota. He spent the summers of his youth fishing at the family cabin and winters wandering through the nearby wooded areas and playing on frozen lakes.  During his senior year in high school, Jason put aside his sketchbooks and delved into music. Attending what later became McNally Smith College of Music, he studied bass guitar and jazz music theory and graduated top of his class with honors. He spent the next ten years playing in numerous rock, jazz, and country bands and recorded several albums.

Realizing how much he missed the serenity of nature, Jason picked up his sketchbooks again and headed back out into the wetlands of southern Minnesota. After spending several years in solitude sketching from life, Jason plunged himself into studio oil painting all while keeping up his discipline of plein air painting. “I was plein air painting before I ever heard the term or knew of the movement. I only understood that drawing and painting from life was the best way to learn. Heading outdoors long before sunrise, I would spend hours in a duck blind just watching and listening. Those moments are with me to this day,” Jason says.

Jason is in the unique category of being one of the few plein air artists who paints animals from life, and one of the few wildlife artists who paints en plein air. “I have always had an interest in history, and during my years of wandering through rural Minnesota I frequently thought about the American Indians; how close they were with nature and the unique privilege they had to live in an unspoiled land. And I’ve always enjoyed drawing the human figure. It finally dawned on me, almost by accident, that this would be a subject I would thoroughly enjoy painting as it combines so many aspects of my interest,” Jason says.