As orange-apocalyptic skies caused many hearts in California to tremble, people in towns like Sonoma were determined to continue on with plans, even if adjustments to an online format were made. This is what local artist Bill (Sig) Rundstrom did and has been making strides.
“I have been busy getting my web site together,” he said. Because of the recent heat wave and then the smoky air from the wildfires, he could not paint in his garage-studio at home.
“Getting a website together takes a bit of work, he added. More so than I thought it would.” Even with the current obstacles making it difficult to utilize his studio space, he was still able to find inspiration outside. He turned his backyard into a make-shift studio. “I have been painting at least one painting a day, he said, since the onset of the Coronavirus in March. This has been my most productive time ever,” he added.
Rundstrom credits this outpouring of creative energy to the power of art itself. He considers it “what artists call ‘in the zone.’ Only, he refers to it as ‘being with a Mr. Mojo.’ (It’s almost like as if someone else is there). As an artist you are out of yourself, he said, it is there in that zone where the art then takes over.”
Making reference to the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gough, among others Rundstrom noted that all artists go through phases, flurries of creative activity and growth. It was while Van Gough was in France that he developed his signature style of landscapes and still life in ever-luminous vivid colors. “These very productive creative periods, said Rundstrom, it comes and goes.”
While he considers his skills as “self-taught,” he is grateful to the many artists he has met and worked with over the years that have helped him. In some ways his venture further into art was serendipitous. Yes, he did go to art school at the San Francisco Art Academy. “It was to learn commercial art,” he said. But at that time, after his tour of duty in the Navy, money available for art school was not there. Rundstrom left art school to find work. While in the Navy he learned drafting at Port Hueneme, CA and with that skill he found work.
This then lead to an opportunity to go into technical illustration. From there Rundstrom got jobs in Marietta, Georgia and Bellevue, Washington before being able to go back to school at San Jose State University. “It was while at San Jose State University that I met my wife Charlene, and got a degree in History and Education.” he said.
With a variety of styles and techniques, Rundstrom works in many ways. He is not attached to any one particular style or way of making art.
Currently, he has been painting a “Dog Days of Summer series.” This like so many opportunities and ideas just come to him. Up until this past March, Rundstrom noted, “I used to have a greyhound named ‘Jet’ and when I would go walking I would meet neighbors and acquaintances along the way. I would do a painting of a neighbor’s dog as a gift.”
From his routine walks with Jet over the years, he met and befriended fellow artist and neighbor, Paul Ford. It was Ford who bestowed the title “art dog” upon Rundstrom. And that in turn sparked Rundstrom to do the summer series of paintings. Ford is among the many artists he has learned from and appreciates input. Rundstrom also credits the art workshops he has taken at the Sonoma Community Center, which has become a place for many artists to gather.
“I am getting burned out with painting dogs, said Rundstrom. But I have so much inspiration and material to work with.”
He credits his wife Charlene and the beauty of Sonoma for most of the inspiration. “Charlene is my best critique, he said. As for Sonoma he added. When we came here we just fell in love with Sonoma. Never mind the teaching job that brought me here. When that didn’t work out. It didn’t matter we knew we had found the place – Sonoma is beautiful.”
Eventually, Rundstrom found work in Real Estate sales, appraisals and risk analyst management. No matter how stressful the job earning a living, his art never ceased. “Retiring from all that helped push me into art. I have never looked back.”
This past week the annual Plein Air Festival of Sonoma went on as planned. Organizers such as Jennifer Parr were uncertain, but decided to go ahead, having it via an online format.
Rundstrom agrees with Parr that the COVID 19 pandemic along with the recent wildfires are “challenging times.” Parr serves as co-president of the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation who sponsors the annual festival. “It is tough to predict what the future will look like,” she told the Sonoma Valley Sun. “But we do know one thing for sure: art must be part of the future.”
On that Rundstrom is certainly unanimous. Regardless if orange apocalyptic skies return again, Rundstrum will continue doing his art, especially as the creative flurry of being in the creative zone with ‘Mr. Mojo’ is still with him.
“I am still fine-tuning the web site and it will continue to change over the next few weeks. To learn more about Bill (Sig) Rundstrom and to view more of his art, visit his web site.