It might be appropriate that Mark Bartlett paints the Rockwell Lighthouse, because light is one of his main sources of creativity.
“I’m always seeking light,” the 52-year-old Sitka-based artist said. “That’s what I’m looking for and where I start a painting.
“If I’m doing a mountain, for instance, I want some drama and the way the light is hitting the mountain is how I develop that drama.”
Bartlett’s subjects span Alaska – he explores the misty, defused light of Southeast and the sharper light of the Interior. A naturalist, he is nonetheless unafraid of taking some creative license.
“I’m trying to accomplish a good painting,” he said. “So if it’s a mountain I want to have very good mountain structure and anatomy, which is important to identify that mountain. I do a realistic interpretation of what I see. But if I feel the need to put in (details like) foothills or trees, I take complete liberties.”
Bartlett grew up outside Fairbanks, drawing constantly as a child. He often explored the landscape with his father, then turned to his mother – a typing teacher – for an endless supply. of clean, white wheets of paper. He admires the work of Alaskan romantic painters like Sydney Laurence, Ernie Robertson and Ray Sandberg.
Like those painters, Bartlett tries to depict “the size of the land and the people living on it.” He has several studies of the Rockwell Lighthouse, both close up, as below, and small enough to be a mere candle at the base of the Pyramid Mountains. Many people have purchased Mark’s Lighthouse paintings, including publisher and former Presidential candidate Steve Forbes.