Artist of Note | Leigh Gusterson

Big, juicy color

Leigh Gusterson, Wood Run, acrylic, 30 x 40.

Leigh Gusterson, Wood Run, acrylic, 30 x 40.

This story was featured in the October 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

The paintings of Leigh Gusterson are filled with winding roads, sprawling mountainsides, and sprouts of colorful trees that dot the landscape. Viewers can spot a car chugging down the road, often with a dog poking its head out the window to catch a glimpse of the vibrant world around him.

Gusterson’s childhood memories are filled with art. Her high school art teacher, a disciple of the Hudson River School of Art, became her mentor and encouraged her to go on to art school. But when Gusterson arrived in the college classes, she became frustrated with the atmosphere and left to forge her own path. After moving to Taos, NM, she combined her Hudson River School background with the vibrant light and color of the desert to find her own unique style. “People have suggested Fauvism, impressionism, and expressionism [as labels], but I wouldn’t put myself in that kind of box,” she says. “When I go out I’m looking for playful shapes, movement, and lots of big, juicy color.”

Gusterson finds inspiration in the rural villages that surround her home. “I love painting these little villages in northern New Mexico where things aren’t so gentrified and there are still remnants of small-village life,” she says. While her main focus is the landscape, she always adds a bit of life in the form of her favorite subject: animals. “I find the landscapes themselves are harmonious and have a good feeling to them,” Gusterson says. “But when I put animals there, it adds a living element that people often connect with.” —Mackenzie McCreary

Gusterson’s work can be seen at Light Mountain Gallery, Peñasco, NM, and www.leighgusterson.com.

This story was featured in the October 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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