Impressions of Durango and Beyond

The landscapes of Durango provide inspiration to many different artists in many different styles. In a converted horse arena in Hermosa Valley, one such artist created a space that would not be out of place at the Met in New York City or the Louvre in Paris. You’re watching the Local News Network, brought to you by the Law Firm of Downs, McDonough, Cowan, and Foley, and TBK Bank. I’m Wendy Graham Settle. John Modesitt has been painting in the Impressionistic style for more than 50 years, mostly self-taught. He moved to Durango about six years ago, settling on Hermosa Creek, drawn to the area because of the natural beauty, which heavily influences his work.

It’s definitely not impersonating someone, like people say, “Are you an Impressionist?” It’s a style of art around the 19th century, started in France, and it spread all around the world. It’s a very loose style, where they paint outdoors, on location, and get a very direct sense. And they didn’t use cameras. Some of the paintings are very sketch-like, very quick and immediate. And usually you have a couple hour window to paint in, because the sun is changing, the shadow’s changing. So you have a very short time period. The advantage of that, there’s a lot of disadvantages like wind, rain, bugs, the advantage of it is that you can capture the immediate environment and the colors in that moment, pretty much like when you walk through nature.

Modesitt has, by his own estimate, painted more than 2000 paintings during his career. He’s lived and painted in San Diego, Chicago, New York City, Italy, Switzerland, and France, to name a few. The gallery space at his property in Hermosa Valley showcases about 80 of his paintings, most of which are from his time in Europe. But the section from Colorado is slowly expanding.

You know, I’ve had a very successful career, so this is really sort of the finish line for me. And I just show my work, and it inspires myself. Also, I can see my progress. And when you show one painting next to another, it kind of, they play off each other. So you can see like an autumn scene next to a winter scene.

Modesitt began teaching himself how to paint in the Impressionistic style after being inspired by posters his dad would bring home from trips. He honed his craft by going into museums and copying works from famous French Impressionists, like Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, as well as American Impressionists. While some museums are particular about who comes in and paints, Modesitt is happy to show his work to anyone interested in it.

If people like Impressionism, they’re welcome to contact me if they like to see what I do. I like talking about my work, and sharing, and listening to other people’s stories. You know, it’s kind of not, I’m sort of reckless when I’m painting, and then I’m very social when it comes to interaction. So, yeah, I enjoy meeting people.

The Museum of Impressionism is free to visit, but it’s only by appointment. To set up a time to visit, you can call Modesitt at 858-232-8906. To learn more about his work and see examples of his paintings, visit MuseumofImpressionism.com. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

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