Emerging Artists | Silas Thompson

Silas Thompson, Autumn Shift, oil, 30 x 40.

Silas Thompson, Autumn Shift, oil, 30 x 40.

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

In a beautiful landscape, many of us perceive one dazzling, unified image. Artist Silas Thompson, on the other hand, sees a whole collection of lyrically linked shapes. These distinct forms become his focus at the easel, where he eschews photo-realistic interpretations of a scene. “It’s almost distracting when you see a rendering of 10,000 leaves,” says the Idaho native, who works both en plein air and in his studio. “Art doesn’t require that attention to unnecessary details.”

Thompson’s admiration for Russian Impressionist painter Nikolai Timkov (1912-1993) reveals a great deal about his own painterly aesthetics. Like Timkov, Thompson portrays what he calls the “broken-down, exposed elements of nature” in vibrant strokes of color that merge to form mountain peaks, pine forests, rivers, and farmland. Sometimes all it takes is one meaningful swipe of his brush to describe a field, aspen, or cloud with “feeling and truth,” says Thompson. “It doesn’t mean the brush stroke is easy or careless,” he adds. “It means you need to have more control over fewer elements.”

That principle of simplification was, in fact, a pivotal lesson he gleaned during his apprenticeships with landscape artists Caleb Meyer and Robert Moore. For Thompson, art is rooted in sincerity, not complexity. “In painting, I seek the good, the true, and the beautiful,” he says. “I don’t always find it, and it’s not always what you’d think it would be. I just finished a painting of a house in eastern Oregon, a simple manufactured home with a chicken coop and clothes hanging out on the line. There is beauty in things we don’t always think of as beautiful. I want that to be a lifelong pursuit.”

Find Thompson’s work at Mockingbird Gallery, Bend, OR; Meyer Gallery, Park City, UT; Kneeland Gallery, Ketchum, ID; Dana Gallery, Missoula, MT; and Hueys Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.

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

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