About the Artist

For me, observing nature is a reflective process best summarized by Naturalist John Muir: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

A native Californian and professional impressionist landscape painter, Carol West has been “going out in order to go in” to hone her painting skills since she was a child, living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She cherishes her first foray into Nature with frequent weekend family trips to the Pacific Coast. Nascent interest in drawing Nature followed.

Today, West paints and lives on a working ranch in California’s Central Valley, which lies between the Pacific Coast and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The property includes a heritage olive grove and vineyard, along with a 1920s two-story Craftsman bungalow and three-story watertank house. Both structures serve as studios.

West often sets up her easel on the property. Back in the studio, she gets inspired to paint by surrounding herself with collections of bird feathers, rosehips, dried weeds and more. Resident/local coyote, fox, raccoon and red-tailed hawk are among welcome wildlife visitors to the compound. And through the upper floor window, on a clear day facing the Sierra, 13,000 foot Ritter Range comes into view.

Living just two hours from Yosemite National Park, West visits when she can, to paint, but early autumn is a favorite time of year. Autumnal colors and late-afternoon light with long shadows can create dramatic highlights. Then, before snowfall, a drive over 10,000 foot Tioga Pass enroute to the Eastern Sierra loop is a favorite destination.

The Western Sierra is dramatic, but the Eastern Sierra is in a league of its own — the flat, open, high desert Owens River Valley has its own patterns of creeks, trees, rabbitbrush and big sky. Then, from the Valley floor, the Eastern Sierra Mountains shoot up to 10,000 feet.

West stays in campgrounds, living out of her truck outfitted with bare-essential art gear. She drives and sometimes hikes to remote locations to create field studies. Later, in the studio, West uses the field studies with site photos, memory and emotional experience to create large, completed pieces.