Arizona artist Ed Mell started drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil.
He splits his time between the outdoors, chasing shadows and sketching, and indoors, trying to capture on canvas the forces of nature he’s seen using dramatic exaggeration of color and form.
Capturing the Landscapes of Arizona, in Paint
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Mell first made a name for himself as a commercial artist in New York City. Craving a break from the city’s crazy pace, he saw an opportunity in the form of a teaching position on the Hopi Indian Reservation in northern Arizona in 1970.
Spending time on Arizona’s Colorado Plateau reconnected him with the land he loved, and his work began to take the shape of that land. He increasingly used paints to capture what he saw. By 1978 his destiny as a landscape painter had been forged.
Mell’s canvases of dramatic clouds over landscapes dominated by striations of organic colors have earned him a place in art history. He painted the official stamp commemorating Arizona’s centennial. His name is now synonymous with the desert Southwest. His paintings hang in galleries and private collections the world over.
Despite his achievements, Mell is sometimes frustrated with his own obsession with trying to figure out how to capture the beauty he witnesses. Like many a great painter, Mell believes that no matter how well you understand light and color, there’s always a third dimension: mood. That’s the part you can never predict.
See Sedona, Arizona, Through the Eyes of Artist Ed Mell