Editor’s Letter | Powerful Beauty

Thoughts on painting the landscape

By Kristin Hoerth

October Sunrise by Darcie Peet.

October Sunrise by Darcie Peet.

This story was featured in the February 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

When it comes to winter weather, we Colorado residents are incredibly lucky. While the Northeast and the Midwest are shivering through seemingly endless weeks of freezing temperatures and steely gray skies, Colorado is often enjoying bright blue skies and sparkling sunshine. This winter, though, we seem to be having a few more gloomy days than usual. Sometimes the layer of clouds is there first thing in the morning; other times it rolls in as the day goes along. And although these gray days sometimes put me in a somber mood, they often have one wonderful benefit: dramatic sunrises and sunsets, with blazing orange and purple hues lighting up those persistent clouds. Especially during the short days of December and January, when the darkness seems relentless, these brief bursts of beauty are all the more stunning.

Moments of natural beauty like these have been captivating artists and motivating them to paint for centuries. They inspired masters of the landscape like J.M.W. Turner and John Constable, not to mention the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The Hudson River School of landscape painting—which included giants like Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, and Frederic Church—was perhaps the first truly American school of painting. And the tradition continued through the decades, through painters like William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, the Taos Society of Artists, Ansel Adams, Andrew Wyeth, and Georgia O’Keeffe. All of them took the natural scenery they saw before them and used it as a jumping-off point for their paintings.

And so the tradition continues to this day, with landscape painting one of the most popular genres among contemporary artists and collectors alike.  We celebrate the bounty of landscape painters in this month’s issue by profiling two artists—well-known Coloradan Gordon Brown (page 66) and soon-to-be-well-known New Mexico painter Jivan Lee (page 72)—and also by bringing together a dozen artists from across the country who each offer a quick glimpse into their personal take on the landscape (page 76).

One of those dozen is Darcie Peet, a longtime painter who splits her time between two equally compelling landscapes, Colorado and Arizona. Peet says she’s always been attracted to “wild places,” and she beautifully sums up the innate appeal of the landscape that so many artists have felt over the years. Her appreciation for the natural world goes far beyond its superficial beauty, she says: Instead, “it’s a deep and humbling reverence for the vast and powerful country” that we live in. May this powerful beauty bring you joy this winter and in every season to come.

Featured in the February 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art February 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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