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Southwest Paintings

Once a part of the painting, landscape served as a backdrop for a figurative painting. Only in the 4 AD did it establish as an independent genre in the East. However, in the southwest, it gave life in the turn of the renaissance period. From Thomas Cole to Thomas Moran, the southwest has attracted artists from all parts of the country.

The beautiful scenery, bright hues, and colorful landscapes have inspired many an artist. Many traveled to the southwest, intending to spend summers. But, attracted by the beauty of the region, they relocated, establishing it as an art hub.

This article brings to you the best southwest landscape artists currently in the art world. We also skate through the vastness that is southwest.

What are Southwest Landscape Paintings?

southwest landscape painting

Southwest landscape paintings capture the stunning beauty of the desert landscape. Unlike any other landscape, it is lined with mountains, cacti, canyons, and vast valleys.

Southwest-inspired artwork also captures the wild west, cowboys, their seeds, and their lifestyle.

The American southwest paintings are always packed with natural beauty not seen anywhere else. The colors are generally vibrant, often remnant of the natural materials. The color palette includes but is not limited to gold, silver, copper, ochre, and umber.

The southwest represents the dry, desert landscape regions of the west. They include New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Colorado, California, Nevada, Utah, and Texas. In addition, the region is famous for the Rocky Mountains, which still serve as a source of inspiration for many artists.

Who are the Best Landscape Artists in the US?

American southwest has attracted many an artist and has been a hub of activity throughout the years. Few artists were born in the southwest, and others adopted the region. From Thomas Moran to Albert Bierstadt, painters have found inspiration in the raw beauty of the arid landscape.

Here are a few artists who have been painting and recording the southwest for generations to come:

Gary Ernest Smith

Utah-based artist Gary Ernest Smith chronicles the change in the land. From seasonal ones to the widespread changes across several years, his paintings have covered the entire landscape of the southwest. His paintings focus on the relationship between man and the landscape.

Smith is known for painting mundane moments of everyday life like plowing fields, tending to livestock, and such. They evoke values such as courage, hard work, and frugality in the viewer.

Gary Ernest Smith’s paintings are simple yet precise statements. They are direct statements full of emotionally compelling content. To achieve that, he distills the landscapes to expose the truth underneath.

What makes his paintings iconic is the use of color, saturated with the unusual color combination. The colors are not the literal rendering to imitate the landscape. Even then, they create a beautiful depiction of the southwest.

Jeff Aeling

The Missouri-based artist Jeff Aeling is famous for his cloudscapes. His paintings bring to the forefront the vastness of the southwest, leaving you with a sense of wonder. But, above all, they lack the presence of a human carrying a sense of solitude.

Aeling’s compositions show the power of the prairie sky. The observer feels dwarfed and enthralled by the sky’s power. Light is boosted to an incredible intensity which then fades, leaving the shadows behind. Much of the power and emotion of work lies in knowing that something could never last.

His paintings capture the softness that enhances the transient nature of the landscape. They are much more realistic since the artist uses a literal color palette to achieve realism. At a distance, the scene looks almost like a photograph.

Gregory Hull

southwest painting

Gregory Hull is a landscape artist who travels around the west collecting impressions of a place from both past and present. He uses his work to highlight the unique qualities and help us understand our beautiful southwest.

Hull is more interested in what makes a place different from the others. How is it special? The artist achieves this by identifying the varying forms and patterns that make up the space. He captures the intrinsic nature by creating a beautiful composition on a canvas.

Gregory Hull’s masterful handling of colors and light makes him one of today’s top southwest painters. His paintings tend to draw the observer in as you study the landscape.

Hull’s paintings follow a distinct impressionist style. He is not worried about the changes neither the human presence. Instead, his work brings forth the ultimate pleasure that can be found only in nature.

Grant Macdonald

A Santa Fe artist, Grant Macdonald, captures the changing landscape with a sense of realism. It helps the viewer connect with the painting even if they have never been there.

Grant Macdonald uses a traditional style of painting derived from the pre-impressionist masters. His use of colors, a vivid palette, and attention to detail make a viewer comfortable with the landscape. You’d also see humans and artificial structures such as buildings.

According to the artist, he doesn’t want to record nature or its significance. But he wants to draw out the emotions and paint them on the canvas.

A winding river, snowy road, desert sunset, daybreak are small examples of subjects and moments you can see in his paintings. You can relate to it even if it is new to you.

Who is the most famous landscape painter?

Vincent Van Gogh is the most famous landscape painter to exist. He was a post-impressionist artist who is known for his use of bold color and expressive brushwork. Van Gogh was also a key landscape artist in the history of western art. His famous artwork includes the starry nights, Irises series, and Wheat Field with Cypresses.

Thomas Cole emerged as the famous landscape painter in the American southwest. He captured the beauty of America through his landscape paintings.

Cole also played a crucial part in the formation of the Hudson River School. His paintings often bring forth the vastness and beauty of the American wilderness.


The Southwest region of the US is an arid desert region, unlike any other landscape. Many painters have explored the southwest and recorded the diverse scene across the seasons. Their styles varied from impressionist to realist and some contemporary.

The result is stunning works of art in canvas, oils, watercolors, and pastels. They painted the cloudscapes, desert landscape, quiet roads, lush mountains, and more.

If you live in the southwest or love the desert, southwest artwork is an ideal choice of wall art for your home. Even though the originals may be out of your price bracket, you can buy canvas art prints for a much cheaper price tag.