Russ Tanner reveals through his paintings a love of America’s Southwest. His art is a testament to the region’s wide-open spaces and unending sky, from the splendor of its high mountains and valleys to the hard, angular places of canyons and the plains in between. The majesty of the mountain ranges and subtle beauty of the deserts inspire him.
"I want to explore nature's entire palette, from the vastness of a cloudscape that billows out above me down to the interesting things that one might find beneath a lily pad. I thrill to discover each nuance of nature. I try to express the essence, the very heart of the vista before me; I want to capture for the viewer what has already captivated me."
His brush moves to the rhythm of nature as he captures the highlights and lowlights, brilliant colors and expansive landscapes of New Mexico and the Rocky Mountain Range. He experiments with juxtaposing light and shadow to capture the constant changes of nature.
From a river winding its way through a high-walled desert canyon to a magnificent panorama of golden mountain aspens, Russ’ richly detailed landscapes introduce viewers to nature’s bounty, as seen through his eyes. A tranquil mountain lake invites you to stop and drink of its beauty; a tree-lined meadow delights with the fantastic hues of autumn and lowering clouds reveal the brilliance of a spring sunset in the Rockies.
Russ orchestrates his paintings much as a music conductor leads an orchestra, drawing out the many tones and intricacies of each instrument, or point of interest in a landscape. While enjoying the play of light over a copse of trees in a high desert study, the eye also notes a splash of color in the prairie grasses, where wildflowers literally grow alongside the cactus.
His work has a luminosity that illustrates his preference for painting in the early morning or late afternoon, when the light is richly saturated and light angles produce color brilliance like no other time of the day.
A colorist, he uses nature’s full palette to express the vista before him and give it a depth of field that is spellbinding. His compositions are masterful, leading the viewer into discovering, as he does, nature’s hidden delights and the subtleties of shadows and light in every view.
Primarily a landscape artist, his paintings have also included wildlife in their natural habitats; the inclusion of animals such as a mountain lion or elk making the understatement that they, too, are of part nature’s scenery. His talents also include several sketches of human models.
Influenced by the art of John F. Carson, Edgar Payne and Nicholai Fechin, Russ works in a broad-brush impressionist style, grounded in his own brand of painterly realism. His attention to color and value, by painting from life, along with design, add a dimension to his paintings that has been recognized by collectors and art critics.
His love of nature drives him to continue to grow as an artist to Russ takes every opportunity to visit new landscapes, creating plein air studies that serve him well in the studio.
“I see something new, something different every time I paint. Even if the subject is the same – the exact landscape, time of day, weather, etc., I see it in a new way, and I just love that. My goal is to take somebody into a space that is boundless in its capacity to awe, where just being there is an amazing experience.”
A graduate of the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Russ worked as an illustrator and designer while continuing his formal studies at the Kansas City Art Institute. In 1992, he moved to New Mexico to capture the beauty of the Southwest on canvas, primarily with plein air and studio paintings. As a Signature Member of Oil Painters of America, he exhibits in national and regional shows, and was a Top 100 finalist in the national Art for Parks painting competition that toured the United States. His work can be seen in major national and international corporate and private collections.
Russ Tanner Fine Art