By Kathe Malouf
Special to the Sun
Chris Quinnert doesn’t limit the subject of his artwork to earthly beauty; he also looks to the celestial wonders overhead for inspiration.
For the past 40 years, the Wofford Heights resident has been capturing the picturesque surroundings of the Kern River Valley and night skies in his photographs and paintings.
This month, Quinnert will be the Kern River Valley Art Association’s featured artist and his paintings and photographs will be on display for viewing and purchase at the Kern Valley Museum from October 18 through November 18. Quinnert’s showing is appropriately entitled “Heavens Above and Earthly Views.”
Those who are familiar with Quinnert’s “space art” paintings know firsthand the intricate details of the stars, planets, moon and seemingly endless night sky that he illustrates in his artwork. But many may not know that his love for celestial objects started at a very young age.
“In 1973, I was given a small telescope and my interest blossomed into the stars, galaxies, planets and the moon,” Quinnert said. “I then began to paint what I call ‘space art’ in acrylics.” He added that his space art often borders on what he terms as “fantasy art.”
Quinnert started painting in the mid-‘70s, as a way to capture what he saw through his telescope. He said that he had no formal art training. “That it would have helped me a lot, and I would have been further along if I did have some training.” His work is the result of reviewing art books and some sound advice from his mother.
“Mom used to say that I have a God-given talent, so I should use it,” Quinnert said.
During the 1980s, he expanded his artistic range to include landscape, and started out by using acrylics, the medium that he was familiar with and the one he used for his space art. “I switched to oils for my landscape paintings, and I loosened up. It was also a way to cover up any mistakes.”
The subjects of Quinnert’s landscapes will be familiar to area residents, as he uses many of the local scenic landmarks such as Baker Point and the Kern River. He admits that he has numerous paintings of Baker Point, adding that by using different colors and shading techniques, or by depicting a different time of day, he is able to create an entirely different dimension of the iconic mountain.
An avid photographer, Quinnert has been a resident of the Kern River Valley since 1979, and said he enjoys hiking and taking photos of meadows, creeks, the river and mountains. The prints from those photographs become the inspiration for his paintings.
Quinnert’s studio is in his home, a room that is lined with various tools of not only his artistic trade, but his hobby and his passion: astronomy. Books along with his personal log books fill the room. His log books chronicle the galaxies, comets, moon phases, and supernovae that he has seen in the night skies during the past four decades.
“We are really blessed to have what we have up here,” Quinnert said of the night sky and surrounding landscapes.
For his showing at Kern Valley Museum, Quinnert said he will be taking about 30 pieces of his artwork, which will include photographs, space art and landscapes.
An artist reception will be held on Oct. 20 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Kern Valley Museum on Big Blue Road. The public is invited to come, meet Quinnert and get to know the artist behind his heavenly and earthly paintings.