Oil painting of colored cliffs in New Mexico

Cliff Faces
By Barbara Coleman
8 x 16 in.
Available through the artist

Cliff Faces was awarded “Best of Signature Members” for the 12th Annual National Members Exhibition, Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, Taos, NM, 2020. Judge of Awards; Lorenzo Chavez Judge’s comments: “For best plein air work by a Signature Member: A classic painting of the colored cliffs in New Mexico. This is a striking design with lots of drama. One can feel the push of the earth always evolving and changing in dramatic and varied ways.”

Barbara Coleman loves to paint and explore the high desert landscapes of New Mexico, her home state. The mountains, cliffs, and canyons in her proverbial backyard inspire her and she has fondly named them “fierce landscapes.” In describing them she comments: “Fierce landscapes have been pared down to the essentials, down to the bones. There’s sparse rainfall, so the plants that survive are few and hardy. Fierce landscapes teach me to simplify, both in my art and in my life. One of my favorite artists, Kathryn Stats, told me to minimize the obvious and maximize the essential, and have the wisdom to know the difference!”

Coleman has a loose, painterly style and looks for: “Beautiful patterns of light shapes and dark shapes” in any subject she paints. The intensity of the light in New Mexico creates strong shadow patterns and brilliant color, which she uses to create abstract compositions as an underlying structure for her landscape paintings. Coleman frequently paints “en plein air” and develops studio paintings from her outdoor color studies.

Coleman studied art in France during college and painted in pastels for several years. After winning multiple awards in pastels, she switched her medium to oils. She says: “I was drawn to the lusciousness and luminosity of oil paint. Once painting in oils I never went back to the dry, powdery nature of pastels even though I’d had a successful career in them.” Seeking to simplify and find aesthetic order in the landscape evolved not only from years of painting, but also from earning a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from The University of New Mexico. She later taught drawing and design at The University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning, and worked as an urban designer for the City of Albuquerque. She painted throughout her career and continues to paint full time.

Coleman is an award-winning artist who has shown her work nationally and internationally. She has Signature memberships in Oil Painters of America (OPA), Pastel Society of America (PSA) and Plein Air Painters of New Mexico (PAPNM), and is an Associate member in Women Artists of the West (WAOW).

To learn more, visit www.barbaracoleman.com