Emerging Artists | Kimball Geisler

Braving the West’s wild places

Kimball Geisler, Winter Transitions, oil, 12 x 16.

Kimball Geisler, Winter Transitions, oil, 12 x 16.

This story was featured in the May 2019 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2019 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the paintings of Kimball Geisler is the wilderness scenery he frequently depicts—remote, unspoiled places with no shelter or soul in sight. While that might not seem unusual for a landscape painter, you may be surprised to learn that the Idaho artist wasn’t keen on nature (or being alone in it) as a child growing up in Northern California. “My first experiences with nature were terrifying,” Geisler says. “My dad would take me dirt bike riding in the desert, and it scared me so much as a teenager that I stopped riding motorcycles.” And just to be clear, it wasn’t motorcycles that he feared, but the solitary experience of riding them through the vast, lonely desert.

Fortunately, Geisler discovered another interest in high school. “I got into drawing with pastels and doing little full-color head drawings,” he says. “I was good at it, so people told me art was what I needed to pursue.” Which he did, earning his bachelor’s degree in fine art from Brigham Young University–Idaho in 2015. Although his focus of study in school was the figure, Geisler began painting en plein air whenever he had the chance. “As an adult, painting brought me back into nature,” he says. “I love being out there, but it’s difficult and beautiful at the same time, and I hope my paintings show that side of nature as much as, if not more than, the typical beauty of it. I want it to seem scary.”

Employing strong values and paying careful attention to edges to highlight form in his paintings, Geisler gives viewers front-row seats to formidable scenes of chiseled alpine peaks, massive boulders, meandering riverbanks, and other back-country scenery throughout the West. The artist, whose landscape work garnered two awards in a recent PleinAir Salon competition, gravitates toward relatively unknown places, and he periodically visits hikers’ forums online for tips on new locations to explore. Such wild places still intimidate him, but Geisler compares his love-fear relationship with nature to spicy-hot Mexican cuisine. “I like it a lot, and it tastes better when it’s painful and really spicy,” he says, chuckling. “That’s what being outside is like. That anxiety gets me to come back. You leave the outdoors, but you’re left thinking about it.” And so, back into the wild West he goes, his painting gear in tow. —Kim Agricola

representation
The Mission Gallery, St. George, UT; www.kimballgeisler.com.

This story was featured in the May 2019 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2019 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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