'Stalking' place, moment enhances Derry art teacher's photography
When Derry Area High School art teacher Richard McWherter submitted his black-and-white photo titled “Reach” for entry into the annual statewide juried “Art of the State” exhibition, he probably expected his artwork would make its way back to him after the show.
Pennsylvania first lady Susan Corbett helped select McWherter's photo as one of two State Museum of Pennsylvania Purchase Award winners, meaning it will go on extended exhibition and become part of the museum's permanent collection.
More than 1,700 artworks were submitted, with 122 selected to be part of the 47th annual exhibition, which runs through Sept. 14.
McWherter said he often spends weeks or months, sometimes even years “stalking” locations, waiting for the right conditions for his ideal photo.
“I'll look at a scene and I say ‘Oh, this would be better at a different time of year or a different time of day.' I come back and I check those at different times of the year and different times of the day to see what the lighting would be like,” said McWherter, who has artwork available for viewing and purchase in the Latrobe Art Center, Greensburg Art Center and Associated Artists of Pittsburgh as well as on his website, www.richardmcwherter.com.
“Sometimes I stalk locations for years, “ he said. “There was one covered bridge I wanted to take a picture of, and I drove past it for about 20 years until I got the picture that I liked.”
There was no time for location stalking when it came to “Reach.”
On a trip to California, McWherter made a quick side trip to Muir Woods in hopes of capturing compelling photos of the towering redwoods and landscapes there. Traffic delayed his arrival in the park, but the brief period of late-afternoon sun remaining yielded the perfect lighting conditions for his award-winning photo of a cluster of redwood roots emerging from an embankment.
Taking a good photograph is only the beginning of McWherter's artistic work. He later uploads the images into computer photo-editing programs and applies digital brushstrokes to add a more expressionistic style.
“I break the picture down into different layers, and each layer I do something different,” he said. “A different brush size or different brush pressure, something different to each layer.”
Having a talented and passionate artist as part of the high school art staff is a major benefit to the Derry Area School District, Superintendent David Welling said.
“I'm very proud that Richard is part of this staff and certainly glad that he shares those talents and insights as he's teaching art here with our students,” Welling said. “We're fortunate to have somebody with his talents on board with us.”
McWherter teaches “ceramics and drawing and sculpture — everything except photography,” but says the same principles and elements are important in all forms of art.
“The photograph, like all art, is a dream made tangible,” McWherter said. “It represents a physical extension of a memory for me. My goal is to lead the eye through an image with the same effect that a storyteller weaves a tale. I want to go beyond just recording a time and place; I want to capture that moment, how it makes me feel, and share it with others.”
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Meteor lights up night sky above eastern U.S.
- Serra boys soccer preps for early-season clash
- Pitt football coach Chryst refutes analyst Wannstedt’s opinion
- Microsoft to pay $2.5B for ‘Minecraft’ maker
- Investors play it safe before Federal Reserve meeting
- Van Voorhis man charged for Monessen cell incident
- Pirates analyst Kent Tekulve recovering after heart transplant
- Ringgold senior Umbel introduced to politics as Senate page
- Business roundup: Mylan reaches deal on hepatitis C drug; U.S. factory output drops; more
- Meyers Player of the Week
- Belle Vernon man facing child sex assault charges