PUBLISHED: 6:01 PM on Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Artists Gallery features Mark Vinsel
JUNEAU - Mark Vinsel will be the featured artist at the Juneau Artists Gallery for the June 6 First Friday event.

He will be at the gallery from 4:30 to 7 that evening to discuss painting, fishing, and the Alaska State Commemorative quarter.

Vinsel's new watercolors feature handmade frames from local Sitka spruce, leftover from a small boat the artist designed and completed last year.

  Many of Vinsel's watercolors, such as "Sailing for Sockeye" (pictured above), combines hand-ground ink with watercolor.
"When you run a sharp plane over our spruce, it seems to glow with pearlescent light - it reminded me of filleting a white king salmon," he said. "I had a few pieces left after finishing my latest boat frame. It is very enjoyable to work with, and the bright wood and hand rubbed oil finish add a warm and natural ... Alaska finish to my work."

Most of Vinsel's watercolors are painted outdoors with a simplified palette of three primary colors. He mixes subtle hues through layers of brush strokes, and often combines hand-ground ink in the oriental technique with watercolor. He uses oriental brushes because he likes the liveliness of stroke and the range of fine and weighty line that they are capable of in a single stroke.

Fly fishing for salmon, trout, and steelhead has taken Vinsel to some beautiful places, and watercolor painting is a perfect companion pursuit. The materials are lightweight and compact enough to fit in a vest pocket, and clear water does not have to be brought in. Vinsel finds he has difficulty choosing between painting and fishing when the sun is setting and the fish are rising.

photos courtesy of Mark Vinsel
  Mark Vinsel paddles in a boat he made from Sitka spruce last year. His new watercolor paintings feature handmade frames from the leftover wood.
Vinsel has painted in watercolors for over thirty years. He learned Chinese brush painting with master painter, poet and musician Tseng Ta-Yu in San Francisco. Tseng strongly influenced Vinsel through the study of brush painting on silk and the composition of paintings, as well as philosophy and comparisons between Eastern and Western traditions.

During several years as an artist-in-residence at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, Calif., Vinsel learned printmaking and etching processes, studying under Kazuko Watanabe. He enjoys the process and the planning involved in etching as a welcome balance to the spontaneity of watercolor, particularly during the winter when painting outdoors can be problematic.

Beginning in 1994, Vinsel was among the first artists to display work on the World Wide Web, and authored one of the first artist's web logs with "A Painter's Journal" from 1997 through 2000. His work can also currently be seen at,

In 1999 Vinsel met Juneau artist Dianne Anderson, and soon moved here. They married, share a cabin, and often paint together.

In 2005 Vinsel was appointed Chairman of the Alaska State Commemorative Coin Commission to lead the public design process for the Alaska state quarter. This coin will feature a brown bear and salmon with the slogan "The Great Land", and will be released into circulation in the fall of 2008.

Vinsel's paintings can be viewed along side the work of the other member artists of the Juneau Artists Gallery in the Senate Mall Building downtown at 175 South Franklin.