Inspired by Sharp, Couse, Bouguereau, and Moran, Joshua LaRock expresses his wonder of the West by combining figurative art with the barren and peaceful desert landscape.
By Joshua LaRock
Several years ago I was introduced to the thriving western art scene while teaching in Scottsdale, AZ. I was surprised to become aware of the Taos Society of Artists, a group of American painters, including Joseph Henry Sharp and E. Irving Couse, who studied European painting techniques in the late 19th century and then put those skills to use depicting the American southwest. These two even studied directly with one of my biggest influences, William Bouguereau.
Their experiences and life seemed to resonate with my story. I grew up in Texas and Colorado but then moved east, to New York, in order to study drawing and painting. Like them, I saw in this genre a really exciting opportunity to paint distinctly American subjects while focusing on the human figure (my primary joy) and also incorporating more landscapes. The west is an unending trove of incredible light and terrain and I have long admired the painters of The Hudson River School, not least of which was Thomas Moran.
During my travels and explorations in recent years a great sense of awe unfailingly has taken over me at the sheer vastness of the desert. I find it is strangely peaceful, in spite of its barrenness, especially in the evening.
In “Western Idyll” (shown above), I wanted to picture a cowboy and his horse caught up in a similar moment of wonderment while the low light puts on its display and the rocky forms reveal their wonderful textures.
This piece will be available as part of the 2022 Masters of the American West Exhibition and Sale at the Autry Museum in February.
Joshua LaRock’s painting “Rachel in Blue” was the featured work in his 16-hour art video workshop titled “Classical Portraits.”
Preview the video here:
Joshua LaRock is internationally recognized as a preeminent figurative artist. His exquisite paintings are an ode to the past, filtered through a contemporary life. His portraits and narrative pieces are memorable both for their emotive quality and for evoking an eerily present feeling.
Josh spent over a decade learning and discovering these techniques.
Order “Classical Portraits with Joshua LaRock” and you’ll be learning from one of the best artists today.