Whitney Gardner is an oil painter and printmaker, native to Southern California. With a focus on painting landscapes of the Southwest, she seeks to expand the barriers of western art to the deserts of the far west in which she calls home. Residing in the Mojave desert of 29 Palms for the last decade, a fascination with the rugged scenery has led her into an artful study of this region. From plein air to studio rendered compositions, her paintings are an ode to the remarkable facets of the desert.
Though Whitney studied art in San Francisco and attained a BFA in 2010, she considers herself a self-taught artist. Her work has been published in the nationally circulated magazine, Western Art Collector and in 2019, her painting, “Ocotillo Sky,” received the Best of Show award at the Joshua Tree National Park Art Exposition.
“In telling a story of the west, I am moved to tell the west as I know it- the far west- of California. With a focus on creating paintings depicting the Mojave desert, a place I explored as a child and now have called home for over a decade, I seek to share corners of this desert that I find truly unique. One of these places is the geologic wonder of the Calico Mountains, an old mining area outside of Barstow, California.
“This is a place that my dad and grandpa would bring my family to camp, hike, shoot, and explore abandoned mines. As a child I was intrigued by the spectrum of colors in the formations, with my head pinned to the window of our truck as we turned onto the long dirt road leading into the canyon of Calico, with shades of purple, pink, yellow, mint green, and turquoise blue spilled all over the surface. The Calico mountains are a rainbow colored range in which concentrated mineral deposits are visibly imbedded in the land formations. I wish I could explain this natural phenomena more in detail, but I’m not a geologist. What I do know is that this place is a mother lode of color, and I am more equipped to explain it as a painter.
“In this collection I explored simplicity, shape, and color. In creating these works I was looking for bold forms, dramatic shadows, long clean lines, and muted, neutral tones to hold the more surprising colors. The compositions are simplified by way of subject- just land formations, sand, and dried vegetation to show the harsh desert climate, desolate and spacious. Though Calico has many visitors and has been tormented by human activity from mining, I connected to the isolated feel of the area, finding something lonely, odd and beautiful about the place. The delicate wrinkles and stripes of color set in stone millions of years ago, simply makes my heart thump. And instead of exploring the area by foot only, I wanted to explore her further by way of hand and mind, and share this pocket of interest existing in the Mojave wilderness.”
– Whitney Gardner