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 magazines, Western Art Collector and Southwest Art and in 2019, her painting, “Ocotillo Sky,” received the Best of Show award at the Joshua Tree National Park Art Exposition.
“My work depicts desert landscapes of the southwest, particularly the far west of California. My oil paintings are an ode to that which I find experiential, such as fleeting cloud formations and colors the desert summons at sunset. While avoiding a stylized aesthetic, I’m also not interested in creating a painting that is realistic, but rather something that is naturalistic, believable, and authentic to how I see my subject.
“Living in the Mojave Desert for the last 12 years has led me to an artful study of the region, though I’m fascinated and make work about deserts beyond the Mojave as well. Most of my work is done in the studio with my original reference material of photos and studies. I paint en plein air to study the natural values, light, and shapes of the landscape, which informs my understanding of the subject while in the studio. I also collect my reference by keeping a camera handy while camping, hiking, and exploring places that interest me. These methods of spending time outdoors allow me to absorb my surroundings by experiencing light changes, desert flora, weather, and atmosphere. In this way, when I’m working in my studio, I can draw on more than a visual memory, but also a feeling or sensation of the landscape, which is essential when trying to communicate my desert experience to the viewer.
“In my practice, I explore the truth and purity of the wilderness. It’s timeless and perfect. I am humbled by rendering its beauty, and hope to draw attention to these aspects that are fading from the human experience.“
– Whitney Gardner