Editor’s Letter | A Sense of Place

Moving around vs. staying put

By Kristin Hoerth

Peggy Immel, Seven Below, oil, 9 x 12.

Peggy Immel, Seven Below, oil, 9 x 12.

This story was featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

One of the defining features of my childhood was my family’s frequent moves. By the time I graduated from high school, we had lived in six states: Wisconsin, California, Kansas, New Jersey, Texas, and Connecticut. I wasn’t an Army brat, as people often guess; my parents just believed in going wherever the best career opportunities took them. After high school I went away to college in North Carolina; after college I moved to a different part of Texas and then to Colorado, my current home. As I think back on all of this relocating, I almost always see it in a positive light. I think of the many parts of the country I’ve seen, the different kinds of people I’ve met along the way, the experiences I’ve had that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d lived in one area my whole life.

When I read this month’s profile of landscape painter Peggy Immel, whose father’s Air Force career resulted in a similarly long list of places lived, I immediately felt a connection. “The nomadic life taught her to appreciate the immense variety of terrain the world has to offer, a quality she taps into each time she goes out to paint,” writes Gussie Fauntleroy. Seeing many different  landscapes, I think, makes their individual attractions even more pronounced: Fall in New England is more exquisite when you realize that other places don’t have bright red, orange, and yellow leaves; the wide-open expanses of the West are even wider when you’re used to the rolling hills of the East.

But Immel is now settled in Taos, which has “absolutely everything a painter could want,” she says, and she makes another point about her sense of place that has gotten me thinking. “There’s a whole subtext that happens when one has a personal connection to a particular place,” she says. “I like to think that gets translated into the way the paint goes onto a canvas. There’s a richness, an emotional energy, that goes into it, and I like to think that comes through in the work.”

As much as I value the perspective of seeing many places, that deep sense of connection and resonance that comes from being immersed in one particular place is important, too—for painters and, in turn, for those who love their paintings. The longtime familiarity reveals nuances and details that are otherwise missed. I hope you’ll join me in admiring Immel’s works and the love of the West that they express.

Featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art December 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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