Friday, November 6, 2009

Design Friday: Maynard Dixon

Today I decided to highlight an artist whose work I find inspiring: Maynard Dixon.
Maynard Dixon was born on a ranch near Fresno, CA in 1875. Early in his painting career, his mentor encouraged him to leave California and "travel East to see the real West". Dixon took this advice and spent time in Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona studying the landscape and people of these areas. There is a Maynard Dixon Museum in Tucson, containing some of his rarest works, though Brigham Young University's Museum of Art has the largest collection of his works.
In college, I took a painting class in which the instructor forced us to explain why we like or dislike works of art. We couldn't just say we liked something, we had to explain what it was in the work that created those reactions. It is so hard to do that, if you are not in the habit of pinpointing the things that move you. It's a good practice to undertake. Here's my attempt to explain why I like his works. I like his his ability to capture the feeling of the West before it was settled- there is a true romance to his works in this way. Perhaps this is because of his subject matter, but also I think he achieves this through his use of bold, pure colors. I also like the simplification of the lines and subjects in his work, without extreme abstraction. I think this simplification lends itself well to the raw, untouched beauty of the west. That's all I've got.

The Plains

Lazy Autumn


Flathead Tepees

Remembrance of Tusayan



  1. Didn't Maynard Dixon draw a line that divided the colonial north and south? The Maynard Dixon line. Did he draw that with paint?

  2. Mike,
    I could be wrong but I believe that was the Mason Dixon line. My understanding is that Maynard did indeed try to paint the line first but doesn't get credit because Mason Dixon covered it with dirt making it obscure. You really have to search out the autobiographies to find those fine details though.

    Thanks for the post. Does this mean you actually think the west is beautiful?

  3. Gina,
    I enjoyed the pictures, also. Thanks for sharing.