Newton artist paints a fall-time career

Joe Loganbill of rural Newton works on a painting in December in his home studio. The Newton artist started painting seriously at the age of 40. Photo by Wendy Nugent

Joe Loganbill?s paintings percolate with timeless, peaceful images. One piece in his home depicts, in vivid colors, a portion of a snow-graced St. Mary?s Catholic Church in
Newton while another is of the Admini?stration Building against a bright blue sky at Bethel College.

An additional painting is a still life that looks like it could?ve been transported from Renaissance times of an apple, pear, grapes and a bucket, and one piece of artwork is of an old-time car with its indigo color contrasting the concrete and limestone building backdrops.

Loganbill, who started painting seriously at the age of 40, said during the years, he?s seen something that?s emerged in his work, which is finding the beauty wherever he happens to be.

?I think that?s the job of an artist is to do the detective work,? the rural Newton native said. ?What might be seen as commonplace scenes can be a beautiful part of our lives.?

In addition to finding beauty, Loganbill said he has been more intentional in locating the plot or story in the painting than he used to be and developing to focus around that.

?That?s what a painting should have in it ? a sense of poetry,? Loganbill said.

The settings for Loganbill?s paintings have been in a variety of places ? from Michigan Avenue in Chicago to the plains of Kansas.

?We can find as much beauty in the Kansas prairie than you can in the mountains if you take the time to look for it,? Loganbill said.

Those Kansas landscapes are what the artist is painting mostly now, saying they?re more marketable in this region.

?But I love to paint architecture and then sometimes enjoy portrait and still life work too,? he said.

In his work, Loganbill aims for a sense of realism, but he doesn?t want his work to cross the line into ultra-realism. He desires people to know there?s paint on the canvas and doesn?t want his work to look like a photograph.

He also enjoys doing small paintings, which he likened to a musician taking piano lessons instead of having a full-blown concert. (The small paintings are like piano lessons, and the larger paintings are more like a concert.)

?I enjoy the immediacy of the small painting,? he said.

This is some of Loganbill?s work. Photo by Wendy Nugent

Throughout his career, Loganibll has sold paintings. Some have sold online, and he also does commission work. He can be reached at or on his website at

One of his more moving projects was when a woman commissioned him to do work for her husband?s grave marker. Her husband was killed in an accident.

?I was very honored,? Loganbill said.

Loganbill?s work has ranged from the large to the small. His biggest work was a triptych with the biggest piece in that work at 5-feet by 12-feet. That work is at Prairie Harvest in Newton and includes at least one hay bale.

He paints on prepared boards and seems to like one particular color more than others.

?I put a lot of blue in my paintings, so apparently I like blue,? Loganbill said.

He said being at the easel makes him feel good, and if he makes a painting others enjoy, that?s more satisfying.

Loganbill?s favorite of his works, called ?The Last Time We Spoke,? is a still-life setting with a framed photo of his mom and an antique camera that belonged to his late father-in-law.

?The theme of the painting is on aging and losing loved ones,? he said.

In addition to being in his home, Loganbill?s paintings hang in collections in the United States and other countries. He also has work in three galleries ? Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, Beauchamp?s Art Gallery in Topeka and Bob Schwan Gallery in Wichita.

Before he ever excelled professionally, he had an interest in art as a youngster. He said he carried a sketchbook as a kid and would draw whenever he had the chance ? like when his mom went into the store as he sat in the car.

He took art classes in middle and high schools, but before that, he decided he liked to draw.

?Even from my earliest age, I remember that feeling of I just love to draw things,? said Loganbill, who lives in a dome house.

The artist attended Sunset Elementary School, Golden Plains, Hesston Middle School, Hesston High School and Bethel College. At Bethel, he was an art major. From there, he took classes at the Wichita Center for the Arts.

?(I) tried different media out over the years and always loved drawing,? Loganbill said. ?That?s kind of where I discovered the oil painting thing was really exciting for me.?

He took as many classes as he could at WCA and also took workshops from artists he admired, such as Jeff Legg in Colorado, and David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw in New Mexico. They all paint ?old-school style,? or chiaroscuro style. With that style, artists are interested in seeing how light lands on objects instead of seeing objects as two-dimensional shapes in the composition. This is in the style of John Singer Sargent and Rembrandt.

Loganbill belongs to several professional artist groups, including Kansas Academy of Oil Painters, Missouri Valley Impression?ist Society and Oil Painters of America. He is a member of those groups for several reasons.

?I think primarily to meet other artists and find out what they?re doing professionally and find out about events and make those friendships artists need, both for encouragement and to be aware of professional growth opportunities,? Loganbill said.

by Wendy Nugent

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