Success Stories | Josh Elliott

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

You might be tempted to think that Montana-based landscape painter Josh Elliott had a head start, growing up the son of successful wildlife painter Steve Elliott. But doing so would discount the innate talent, unique vision, and unrelenting hard work of the younger Elliott, whose impressionistic oil-on-canvas scenes portray the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains with such uncommon presence that you can all but smell the air, feel the breeze, and hear the rushing water or drip of snowmelt. “I always say that a good painting to me represents nature’s truth, filtered through the artist,” says Elliott, who, after taking art classes at several universities, finally and most satisfyingly studied under his father. Elliott says he’s still on a path of learning: “I’m trying to clarify my voice right now, to paint paintings that I’m excited about.”

Has your style or approach to your art changed since you first appeared in Southwest Art? I think there’s more color in my work now, and I have a more simplified approach. I’m also more selective about my subjects.
What is your proudest accomplishment so far? As an artist, I’m proudest of just being able to make a living, allowing my wife to stay home with our two girls, who are 3 and 5 years old.
Would you have done anything differently? At the beginning of a career as an artist, you’re learning to paint and to run your own business at the same time. I look at anything I messed up as a learning experience that saved me from a bigger mess later on.
What advice do you give to artists just starting out in their careers? Focus on creating quality work, with the goal ultimately to create a true piece of art.
What motto do you live by? Don’t yearn for things that you don’t have. Be satisfied.
What artists have influenced you? My dad, number one, because I always saw his artwork growing up. I’ve had a lot of help from painters John and Terri Moyers, too. I’d say I’ve also been influenced by the Taos Society of Artists, the California Impressionists, and the Canadian Group of Seven.
What are you working on now? In all my work right now, I’m still trying to clarify my voice and to paint what I’m excited about.
What’s your next big goal? Keep pushing myself to do better.

Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, AZ, and Santa Fe, NM; Claggett/Rey Gallery, Vail, CO; Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY; Simpson Gallagher Gallery, Cody, WY;

Holiday Smalls Works, Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, December 3.
Annual Holiday Gala group show, Claggett/Rey Gallery, December 29-January 5, 2010.
Masters of the American West, Autry National Center of the American West, Los Angeles, CA, February 6–March 7, 2010.
Solo show, Claggett/Rey Gallery, March 13-23, 2010.
American Masters, Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, May 5-16, 2010.

First appearance in Southwest Art: Artist to Watch, November 2002
Awards won since then:
The latest was the Palette Award at the 2008 Quest for the West show at the Eijeljorg Museum. In August 2007, I won the Edith Hamlin Award at the Maynard Dixon Country show in Utah. Both shows are full of artists I admire, and it was just incredible to be in them with all my heroes.
Price change since then: When I started out, my prices were pretty low to get people looking. They’ve probably almost doubled since then. Most everything is under $10,000, though a few go over.

Featured in “Success Stories” in December 2009