Last week Tom Soucek presented his artwork at an open house at the K.K. Berge gallery. He’s been painting watercolors for 35 years. The majority of his artwork is based on the woods of northern Minnesota.

He puts out a lot of paintings, and spends pretty much every weekend of “the art show season” (Summer and Fall until it gets too cold) traveling to showcase and sell his work.

The landscape paintings are purely based off his imagination. He spent tons of time in the woods during school. He grew up in Burnsville, and went to Bemidji for college. The painting of things like barns or cars are based off photographs he takes.

He’s self taught. It took quite a while to figure out the ideal paper, and techniques. He keeps his style very simplistic. The art looks detailed, but the simplicity comes from cutting any unnecessary details. “There’s nothing hidden or secret, when you look at the painting, you know what you’re looking at.”

He starts his paintings with the sky. If there’s a row of trees in the background, that would be the next step. The more forward layers of trees and the occasional animal are done last. The foreground trees will be sketched as outlines, but otherwise he doesn’t do any pre-drawing. He just plans out the number of trees and animals.

Most of his sales come from resort and vacation areas. His customers are older people. He says that most people like to buy what they see every day.

His brother-in-aw makes the frames from old barns that he helps break down.

Soucek deals in volume. His simple style and focused process lets him churn out paintings. He doesn’t have a problem selling his work because it’s something he could paint again, but he still has a few special pieces he won’t sell.

The 68-year-old Soucek spends two days a week playing competitive softball. He likes to play shortstop, or the inner ring of outfield (the league uses six outfielders) Two days a week are dedicated to softball, two to three days are spent traveling for art shows, and the other two are spent painting. Soucek is winding down his painting career, but he’s enjoying his lifestyle.