Rusty Frentner: Keeping it Wild!


“Sheep” Oil, 16×24 Collection of the Artist, Winner of an Award of Excellence from the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

In a rare moment, the artist of “Sheep”, Rusty Frentner, was able to capture a glimpse of the elusive mountain sheep found in the Whiskey Basin Wildlife Habitat Area in Wyoming .  The animals peacefully sun themselves on warm rocks, giving Rusty a perfect opportunity to capture their images.  The painted image is perfection; the composition leads us to the ram, and we are taken through the painting by the various positions of the animals.  The artist has given the viewer a place to stand and enjoy the scene, and he has infused the painting with warmth and sunlight.

Living in the country as a boy, Rusty Frentner learned to draw and paint early on, savoring the nature around him.  He found inspiration in the wildlife and animals, and has continued that theme throughout his body of work.  Rusty studied illustration and fine art in college, and has studied with numerous wildlife artists to hone his skills.  He sites Heiner Hertling, also a wildlife and landscape artist, as a mentor who continues to inspire him.  He also looks to the work of artists from the past, namely Peter Paul Rubens, John F. Carlson, Edgar Payne and Henry R. Poore, especially for their compositional techniques.


“Monarch”, Oil on Gessoed Hardboard, 6.5×7.25, Collection of the Artist

Rusty works mainly in oils, but has also worked with acrylics, graphite, watercolor, colored pencil, pastels, and gouache.   His plein air work is in oil, and he works either on stretched canvas or canvas mounted on a  gessoed dry erase board.  When outdoors, he uses his Strada easel, and Grey Matters brushes.  He values the experience of outdoor painting, and though does work from his photos in the studio, he is able to paint en plein air at least once per week throughout the year.

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“Afternoon on the Madison” Oil on Stretched Canvas, 15×20, Collection of the Artist

His process in the studio is one of careful planning and attention to the composition (after his coffee, or course!).  Using Photoshop to help him design the painting, he decides on the format, size, and composition.  He often uses an armature for a compositional guideline, using the phi root rectangle or other root rectangle.  The compositional strategies he has found in the books by Carlson and Poore are also useful in his planning stage.  After he has decided on his plan, he sketches out his painting which he then transfers to the canvas.  His painting rhythym in the studio depends on the excitement he feels about a particular painting…some call him to work right away, others require more thought.  To Rusty, “the most important part of the painting is the composition and design.”

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Working process for “Phi Apple” Oil on Canvas, 12.75×20, Collection of the Artist

To date, Rusty acknowledges his Best Outdoor Still Life Award at the Plein Air Art Salon sponsored by Plein Air Magazine to be his greatest accomplishment.  He has also won numerous local and international awards as well.

Rusty’s advice to readers is to Paint, Paint, Paint!  He feels his biggest steps forward were a result of practice.  He recently took the 30 day Challenge sponsored by Strada Easels, which he says greatly increased his skills.  One technique in particular was to paint small paintings using only 50 brush strokes.  This technique helped him to use less detail, and to get the image painted before the light changed.  Also helpful for personal advancement is to study the work and techniques of other artists; this helps to educate and inspire.

Rusty is currently represented online by
To view more of Rusty’s work, visit his website at

To view more of the National Oil and Acrylic Painter’s Society Best of America Exhibit, visit  or visit on Instagram at Natoilandacrylicsociety.


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