Emerging Artists | Lili Anne Laurin

Copper State splendor

Lili Anne Laurin, Sunrise Over Phoenix, oil, 9 x 8.

Lili Anne Laurin, Sunrise Over Phoenix, oil, 9 x 8.

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

The desert might seem like an unlikely place to find a self-described “East Coast girl” whose numerous paintings of seascapes, lakes, and waterfalls once earned her the nickname “the water lady.” But plein-air artist Lili Anne Laurin has always been inspired by nature, and after moving from New Jersey to Fountain Hills, AZ, four years ago, she couldn’t resist training her eye on the colorful desert landscapes around her new home. “When you move from one end of the country to another, the landscape is so different, the vegetation is so different,” she says. “You really need to get out there and understand what the desert is about.”

Laurin, a Canadian native, studied fine art at Concordia University in Montreal, and she also refined her drawing and painting skills with watercolorist Helmut Gerth. Later, after moving to New Jersey—where she lived for 18 years—the artist studied life drawing and painting at the Art Students League of New York, and she has taken workshops with esteemed artists like Greg Beecham, Bill Cramer, and Ruo Li.

Today, the desert is simply new training ground for Laurin as she perfects her eye for color, light, value, and composition—all the elements that compel her to paint. Her oeuvre is peppered with iconic desert scenes aglow in the dramatic light of sunrises and sunsets, and her palette has become “higher key,” too, says the artist, in response to all that southwestern sunshine. An enthusiastic early riser, she loves to venture out before the crack of dawn to watch the sun creep above the nearby Superstition Mountains as she paints. She also makes regular trips to Grand Canyon National Park to paint en plein air—a challenging “project,” says Laurin, as she strives to distill the vast, complex canyon on her canvas.

Last November the artist garnered the prestigious Purchase Award in the American Women Artists’ national juried exhibition for LEES FERRY LANDING, a portrayal of a glimmering section of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Completed in her studio, the piece exemplifies her self-described photographic impressionist style. “A lot of people have told me that my paintings give them a sense of quietness and stillness,” says Laurin. “That’s really how I feel. There is no wild brushwork. That’s just not me. I want to convey calmness.” —Kim Agricola

representation
Highlands Art Gallery, Lambertville, NJ; McBride Gallery, Annapolis, MD; www.liliannelaurin.com.

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

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