This page of my personal website is about the beauty of the landscape, with a gallery of favorite paintings showing mountains, waterfalls, and wild animals in the wilderness.  I also have included some lovely paintings on historical and religious subjects.

                                                                                                                                                    — Robert Stuart Turner

One of my hobbies is landscape painting, something I have not had much time to do lately.  My style is naturalistic and just slightly impressionistic.  I am not good enough to emulate the sharpness of a photograph, but I greatly admire artists and illustrators who can achieve such realism in their paintings.  I love historical paintings and wilderness paintings with animals.  Some of the best examples that I have recently downloaded from the Web are in this gallery of favorites, grouped by genre.  Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the picture, and from there you can go forward and backward in the group.  But if you want to see the image in its full glory, right-click on the thumbnail and choose "Open link in new tab," or "Open link in new window," and from that new page you can download the full-resolution picture.  If it is a big one like "Heart of the Andes," from the Frederick Edwin Church gallery, it might take a while to load.  It's worth the wait, though.  I hope you enjoy these paintings as much as I do.

Religious Paintings

These are modern paintings of scenes from the Creation and the stories of the Gospel.  I looked the artists up after seeing reproductions of their work in a Kinkade Gallery in Old Clovis Town.  I really like the style as it brings Jesus closer to us when we remember that he lived the life of a real person.

Wilderness Paintings

These paintings by modern artists of the West show a love of landscape from the California foothills to the Arctic tundra.  Three of them are of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the country, the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming.  It has a beautiful title too, since it contains the air, water, and rock in a single name.  Painting the land is not always easy.  One has to capture the sense of scale, and have a feeling for the air and the light filling the space between the hills and mountains.  As a geologist I can tell when a painter hasn't gotten the mountain masses right, but when he does it is a wondrous achievement. 

 Yosemite Paintings

Many artists have come to Yosemite since its discovery by the European immigrants, but Thomas Hill was one of the best because he never exaggerated the features to make them seem steeper or bigger than they are.  Yosemite is already grand enough that it doesn't need an artist's enhancement.  There is no other place on Earth that I love like Yosemite.  It is a power center for me, for I always come away lifted in spirit and inspired to do great things.

 Frederick Edwin Church Paintings

Frederick Edwin Church (1826 - 1900) never made it to the American West, though he did travel to Europe and South America.  He was a member of the Hudson River School of artists, who laid the groundwork for landscape painting in the early American republic.  He is therefore an important influence on those who would carry the tradition into the western frontier.  But no one who came after Church ever equaled him in conveying the grandeur and drama of nature at its most magnificent.  Frederick Church was such a master of detail, he could surround his painting of an Amazon jungle with real tropical plants and a floor of soil, giving people the feeling that they were looking into the space of a real jungle.  This was an early example of virtual reality in art.  His 1859 painting, "Heart of the Andes," at the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan, towers over the viewer at five feet high and ten feet wide, and yet every leaf and flower and blade of grass is exquisitely rendered in the painting.  The painting was a sensation when first displayed, and even this high-resolution upload cannot do justice to the original.  Before photography there was Frederick Edwin Church. 

Thomas Moran Paintings
One of the greatest of the Western American painters was also one of the most important.  When Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden led a geological survey to northwest Wyoming in 1871, he took along the great photographer William Henry Jackson and a young artist Thomas Moran.  Jackson's glass plate black & white photographs captured the essential truth of Yellowstone's nearly unbelievable wonders, while Moran's plein air watercolors spoke to their incredible beauty.  Together they convinced Congress to set aside the vast tract as America's first national park.  Moran went on to paint two tremendous canvases of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, which grace the staircases leading to the galleries overlooking the chambers of Congress.  One of them is "The Chasm of the Colorado" in this collection below.  His paintings of Shoshone Falls on the Snake River in Idaho recall Church's grand painting of Niagara Falls.  He also created many canvases of the Mount of the Holy Cross, a genuine mountain in the Colorado Rockies that bears a large cross-shaped snowfield.

Western Genre Paintings

The artists who paint historical scenes, whether of Native Americans, early explorers, fur trappers, miners, or pioneer residents, and those who specialize in painting modern farmers, ranchers, cattlemen, and other denizens of our American West, are the Western Genre Painters.  Their work is highlighted in a wonderfully illustrated magazine called Southwest Art, which is as collectible for the illustrations in the advertisements as it is for the articles.  These are the most prized of all the paintings of the West, because painting people is so difficult, and the art of capturing a story in a visual moment is a rare talent.  

Animal Paintings

There are many artists who specialize in painting animals.  Stephen Lyman is one of the best still working today. 

Other Historical Genres

I also love paintings of historical scenes unrelated to the exploration and settling of the American West.  This painting of the Constitutional Convention is a masterpiece that hangs in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.  Classical Greece is another period from history that draws my fascination, enamored as I am with the Periclean Age, when so many great minds gathered in one city to create a body of art, philosophy, and modern thought that has enthralled all of subsequent time.  While people of later great ages would forever look back and compare their own time to that golden moment of history, which lasted only a short twenty years, those who lived it knew there had never been another time comparable to theirs, that they were living in the greatest period in the history of man.

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