The power of nature
This story was featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Colorado-based painter Lori Forest grew up in Iowa farm country where pigs, cows, and horses were among her friends and the subjects of her drawings. Today Forest carries on her childhood interests, regularly playing foster parent to an array of creatures including toads, snakes, and magpies. Wilderness areas encircle her home nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills. So it’s no surprise that her subject matter of choice these days is the landscape and wildlife.
Forest studied art and geology in college, but she didn’t get serious about oil painting until she became a stay-at-home mom and simultaneously felt a burst of creative inspiration. Through miles of canvases and workshops with Colorado artists Jay Moore and Dave Santillanes, her fine-art career has blossomed. Forest relishes sharing the “wild stories” she beholds in the West. Recently, as a guest artist at the Autry National Center’s Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale, her depiction of two mountain goats in Glacier National Park hung on the walls of the prestigious show. “I try to bring the life of the animal into the piece, whether it’s the dynamics of a newborn elk joining the herd or a mother bobcat teaching her young to hunt,” Forest says.
Although the artist lives in the midst of uncommon beauty, there is also the constant threat of dangerous, devastating wildfires. Forest has been evacuated from her home three times since 2011, when her family awoke in the night to a surreal drama of hurricane-force winds, choking smoke, and humongous flames. In the aftermath, Forest painted ONLY A HOPE AND A PRAYER. The painting is based on the moment when she had to open the gate to a corral and turn loose her six precious horses. Rescue workers told her that there was no time to save them. Her family and the horses survived, but Forest says it was a defining moment when she realized that sometimes in life “we only have a hope and a prayer to carry us through. In my landscape paintings I try to represent a natural beauty that is not just visually appealing but also realistic, harsh, and powerful, as nature often is,” Forest says. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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