Francis Livingston: Enlivening the Landscape
August 10, 2017
Francis Livingston’s southwest inspired paintings enliven the western landscape with an expressionist style. Rich colors and primitive brushwork give an imaginative and Fauvist feel to his compositions, which are often populated with reverent Native figures draped in traditional dress. The shrouded figures navigate the terrain with smooth familiarity as their soft shapes echo the wavering silhouettes of surrounding trees and desert flora. Livingston’s intuitive painting approach and loosely realistic style encourages a visceral emotional response to his nostalgic imagery. “My work is about mood and environment,” says the Sun Valley, Idaho artist. “But I infuse it with enough reality that people can relate to it in some way.”
Livingston’s realist roots stem from a fruitful illustrative career that eventually led him to become a professional painter. Livingston, who had early aspirations of becoming a comic book artist, was drawn to the narrative approach that illustration provided. He studied at the well-respected Academy of Art in San Francisco in a competitive program that provided him with ample opportunities upon graduation. Throughout his career, his work was widely published in corporate reports and brochures, books, album covers, and more, as well as magazines including The New Yorker, Reader’s Digest and Smithsonian Magazine. He was also commissioned to create the book cover for Michael Blake’s “Dances With Wolves” and its sequel, “The Holy Road.” A leader in the field, Livingston was awarded silver medals from the New York Society of Illustrators in 1997 and 1998.
Art dealers began to take notice of Livingston’s painterly illustrative style and skillful artistry and approached him to show in galleries, slowly transitioning the artistic storyteller into fine art oil painting. Now, Livingston combines the work ethic and skill set he gained in his first career with the intuition and expressive freedom that his painting style allows. “I believe some of the best painters come from the world of illustration,” he says. “It’s like a training ground. You learn to meet deadlines, but you also learn that you can’t skimp on quality. There’s a level of confidence you gain as an illustrator.”
As a painter, Livingston focuses less on story lines and more on applied emotion, following the fluidity of the paint to create compositions that are allegorical, yet open-ended in their interpretation. His latest work for his solo exhibition pays homage to the Taos Founders, early influencers for Livingston, with Native American portraits and high desert landscapes. Preview his latest paintings on our website and join us for Livingston’s opening reception on Friday, August 18th from 5-7pm.
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