One moment, the landscape is gray and flat, almost forgettable.

But then, something very strange and yet very ordinary happens: the sun breaks through, and everything changes. This is precisely the place, the moment, and the emotion that artist Teresa Adaszynska looks for and paints.

“My eyes are always searching for an enchanted moment in nature,” the Spokane artist explains.

“Sometimes, a particular place I may have visited numerous times before may appear magical on the next visit due to extraordinary light and shadows.”

Born and raised in Poland, Adaszynska began her art career with contemporary abstract work. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1982, Adaszynska started hiking the western states in which she lived — California, Colorado, Washington — until a serious illness interrupted both painting and hiking. Upon recovery when she picked both up again, she found she wanted to paint differently than she had before.

“The beauty of the western landscape inspires me, especially the light. It can transform even ordinary places into something magical and extraordinary.”

Recognizing that she needed different skills for representational painting, Adaszynska began a self-directed study program incorporating mentorships, workshops, and painting with fellow artists. For three years, she took formal classes in studio and plein-air painting at the Art Students League of Denver, studying under Doug Dawson, Molly Davis, Joe Kronenberg, Terry Lee, and others. 

Adaszynska paints with a combination of plein-air — setting up her easel and working outdoors — and studio techniques. She often begins a work by sketching directly onto the canvas, after she has mentally determined the composition by looking at large abstract shapes, light direction, and values. One of her most memorable plein-air moments took place near Kenosha Pass, CO, on a day so glorious that she knew she had to paint.

“I was more than halfway through with my painting when the notorious Colorado mountain thunderclouds started to build,” Adaszynska remembers. “I do not like being outdoors where there are thunderstorms, so I started to quickly finish and pack up.

“The storm was coming very quickly with very dark menacing clouds, lighting and rain. I was very anxious to leave.”

While packing her car, Adaszynska set the painting on top of her vehicle, and in the commotion of the moment, forgot it was there and drove off. It was only when she arrived at a place of shelter that she realized the painting was gone.

“After the storm was past, I went back to find it.

“I did find my painting, but of course it was completely destroyed.”

Although that was most definitely NOT an enchanting moment,

“I can laugh about it now.”

Describing her hiking excursions as “too numerous to count,” Adaszynska has taken reference photos of, and painted, the Colorado Rockies, Hollywood Hills in California, Yellowstone National Park, Sequoia National Park, Eastern Washington and Oregon, as well as New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Texas, her native Poland, the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe. The animals she paints are those she sees on her hikes, although the time she encountered a mama bear with two cubs in the Flatirons near Boulder, CO, she was more interested in extricating herself from the situation than in taking a family portrait.

“It was extremely frightening, but I cautiously moved forward out of their area as they just observed me.”

A member of the Oil Painters of America, Adaszynska shows her work throughout the Western U.S. She participates regularly in the Western Art Association National Show and Auction (Ellensburg, WA), Heart of the West and Western Masters (Bozeman, MT and Coeur d’Alene, ID), and the Annual Spokane Valley Arts Council Art Showcase and Auction (Spokane Valley, WA). Collectors of her work reside throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Poland.

Light, camera, painting easel, and action: they join together to create vibrant color and magical mood. It is a mood, Adaszynska hopes, that reflects the beauty of the landscape around her, a landscape she never tires of being in. And while she is happy wherever she is painting, she likes it best when she is doing so outdoors.

“I have a separate studio space in my home,” Adaszynska says. “But I consider the majestic outdoors of the Pacific Northwest as my personal favorite studio.”

Carolyn Henderson is a freelance writer who co-owns Steve Henderson Fine Art and SteveHendersonCollections.com with her husband, Steve. She welcomes correspondence at carolyn@stevehendersonfineart.com.

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