The eventful Western Art Week in Great Falls, MT coincides with the birthdate of Montana’s most famous artist,C. M. Russell. The city comes alive with great art in a multitude of venues. Our exhibit host is the Out West Art Show and Sale, put on by the Out West Art Foundation.
MTWS annually awards one of our outstanding Signature Members as Artist of Merit, sponsored by Margo Voermans. MTWS is pleased to announce the 2024 honoree is Ilene Paulsen of Plains, MT.
The MTWS members exhibiting this year are, Roberta Burruss of Corvallis, MT, Sue Antonich of Helena, Shimi McKenzie of Hamilton, Keri Keefe of Columbia Falls, Carol Spurgeon of Great Falls and Artist of Merit Ilene Paulsen of Plains, MT.
4 11am - 9pm Thursday, March 14th through Saturday, March 16th
Location: Exhibit Room 155 Out West Art Show & Sale hosted by the Heritage Inn 1700 Fox Farm Dr. Great Falls, MT
Meet the 2024 MTWS Artist of Merit, for Western Art Week Ilene Paulsen
The Montana Watercolor Society is proud to announce the selection of member, Ilene Paulsen as the Society’s 2024 “Artist of Merit.” Included in Ilene’s many accomplishments, is the recognition by the Portfolio Art Magazine last year during Western Art Week, where she received one of their “2023 Most Distinguished Body of Work” awards! This year marks the third time Ilene will be showing her work during Montana’s Western Art Week. The first was with the Montana Watercolor Society at the ‘Out West Art Show & Sale’ in 2022. There she was pleased to receive an invitation to join the ‘Wild Bunch Art Show” for the 2023 exhibition. This venue allowed her to share work painted in a variety of mediums, and she ultimately won the prestigious award for her distinguished body of work.
Ilene and her husband, Bruce, live in Plains Montana where she enjoys painting in all mediums and painting a wide variety of subject matter. Ilene’s statement of expression is, “Behold, the earth is filled with HIS glory.” Her latest work is a stunning acrylic painting over 10 feet square, featuring a set of praying hands. The large, commissioned painting will be a focal point for a church in Mexico.
You can see Ilene’s amazing work in two locations this year: One venue is the ‘Out West Art Show & Sale,’ being held at the Heritage Inn located at 1700 Fox Farm Road. The exhibit room is #155, hosted by the Montana Watercolor Society and will feature watercolor paintings by MTWS Members. This includes Ilene’s display panel honoring her as the “2024 MTWS Artist of Merit.” The honor is sponsored by both MTWS and by Margo Voermans, a distinguished member of the society. Ilene is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Society as the Chairman of this event.
The other venue is the ‘Wild Bunch Art Show’, being held at the Hampton Inn, located at 2301, 14th Street SW. This is where you can meet Ilene in person and see a full booth of her wonderful paintings. Congratulations, Ilene and MTWS wishes you a great showing for 2024! www.ilenepaulsen.com
I was born and raised in Minnesota and ever since I could remember, I had this dream of moving to the wilds of Alaska. Mutual friends knew this single guy that lived up there and after a courtship of marine radio calls and many cards and letters we got married and lived in various areas of Alaska for 20 years.
But I missed the barns and cows.
Montana has been home for eight years and yes, I do have cows! and pigs and chickens! Chores and gardening are my outdoors job/passion but indoors it is painting. I enjoy all mediums but there is something about putting a dab of color on the paper and manipulating it with the bristles of a brush and plain water. From the tiniest eyelash to letting the pigment do its own thing, watercolor is so versatile and fulfilling for me. God has proved to me that He does give us the desires of our hearts and blesses us all with talents and abilities.
Angel Wing Begonia Size: 15" x 22"
Montana Views Size: 12" x 16"
I remember, attending an art show as a child, it was filled with “big, beautiful paintings” and while walking amongst the large, captivating paintings I was inspired to become an artist. The scenes of trees, mountains, and rivers were each painted with such an elegance, I looked forward to one day, painting the landscape with this same transportive elegance. Art was my favorite past-time and was always my first elective class. I joined art groups, clubs, and organizations, working together to improve and showcase paintings.
In 1990 I joined the Montana Watercolor Society and became a signature member in 1996. I enjoyed many of the opportunities the Society provided to study and show with highly sought after instructors from across the country. Later I began serving on the board of directors first as the Signature Membership Chair, then as Vice President, and recently as President, helping to provide these same opportunities for other artists in Montana. MTWS approved The Great Falls Art Show program at the fall board meeting in 2015, the same year I began serving on the board of directors and I have been a grateful participant each year since. I have always had a fondness for Charley Russell and his life story and now I enjoy sharing my own work with the western art community during Western Art Week.
Hilltop Barns Size" 8.5 x 11.5
I have been painting in watercolor since 2010, with dismal results at first. Since retiring 10 years ago, my art has become more satisfying. I have had wonderful mentors, workshop teachers, and critiques by friends that have helped me along the way.
Unlike a lot of my fellow watercolorists, I paint things with eyes. Landscapes never satisfy the way figures do so, I restrict my creative efforts to the wild and western life here in Montana. Although I have sold several of my paintings, I would not ever consider myself a gifted artist. My gifts lie in my stubborn never-give-up nature, my good memory, perseverance, willingness to fail, and an eagerness to learn the craft. Therefore, I encourage anyone who wishes they could paint, to just pick up a brush and some paints and dive in.
The Barn in Their Nostrils Size: 11” x 14”
St. Paul Lake Trail Size: 20.5" x 14"
Third generation Montana native Keri Keefe grew up in Trego, MT in a very artistic home. Her earliest memories were painting homemade Christmas ornaments and sewing her own dolls. Several members of her immediate family are professional artists in a wide variety of mediums. Keri currently lives in Columbia Falls with her husband and three children.
Keri was first introduced to watercolor nearly fifteen years ago at FVCC in a class taught by local teacher and artist, Karen Leigh. She instantly fell in love with the loose, flowing medium and its meditative practice. Since then, she has taken numerous workshops and classes but is mostly self taught. In her most recent work, she has been drawn to portraiture and the figure. “I spend a lot of my painting time on portrait commissions. Its so rewarding to really capture personality in a portrait. Quite a few of the portraits I do are memorials - it is an honor to be a part of something that brings loved ones peace and joy when they see them. I feel like I can really be part of the healing process.”
Keri enjoys teaching her own introductory watercolor classes from time to time and belongs to several Watercolor Societies, both locally and on a national level including Montana Watercolor Society and Northwest Watercolor Society and is a member of the Hockaday Museum of Art.
Main Street Size: 15.5" x11.5"
Sue Antonich, artist, has been painting for over 30 years. Primarily self-taught, her main focus is watercolor.
She also works in pastel, acrylic, ink, and painting/wood burning on gourds.
Her subject matters range from florals, landscapes, wildlife and still life. Sue resides in Helena, MT.
Born in Missouri but greatly influenced by Montana, Carol began attending Montana Watercolor Society workshops in the early beginning of the Society, She credits those workshops, with the media’s draw, as well as the inspiration of many fine artists at Gallery 16 for 35 years. Her subjects are many and varied to include brushstroke painting, and paintings sourced by mission trips around the world for her inspiration.
Honored by acceptance and awards in many juried shows, Spurgeon teaches workshops and is a signature member of MTWS. She resides in GT Falls, MT