Featured Artist Jack McGowan

Plein air painter Jack McGowan presents a collection of American Southwest landscapes to inspire concern for the sustainability of our environment. Visit his website to see more.


Painting of the Nuestra Senora Chapel at Canoncito by Jack McGowan

“Nuestra Senoras Chapel at Canoncito” oil on linen, 16” x 12”


I’m a plein air painter living and painting in Santa Fe. My path to this point was unusual, as I spent a career in clean energy before starting a painting development plan that blends self-taught and tutorial training.


painting of a lake and mountains by Jack McGowan

“Waiting To Take A Ride” oil on linen, 20” x 16”


I started painting while teaching at the Zuni Native American Pueblo in 1975. I was fortunate to learn from Alex Seowtewa, who is known as the Michelangelo of the Southwest.


mountain landscape painting by Jack McGowan

“Springtime Up North” oil on linen, 20” x 16”


Life intervened and I didn’t paint again for forty years. As a lifelong learning advocate, I began to study and was lucky to meet Sally Delap-John soon after developing rudimentary painting skills. She introduced me to plein air painting in the beautiful village of Truchas. Since then, I’ve studied with numerous world class artists and continue self-study to reinforce skills.


painting of a village in the snow by Jack McGowan

“Brilliant Blue Sky After the Storm” oil on linen, 20” x 16”


Two primary motivations for my work are 1) the unbridled fun of painting outdoors, and 2) creating compelling images to evoke esteem for the environment and a desire to preserve it.


painting of a truck in front of a coffee shop in cuchara, colorado by Jack McGowan

“Cuchara Colorado Coffee Stop” oil on linen, 16” x 12”


Profound appreciation for our planet and a conviction to preserve it were drivers for my successful career in clean energy. After retirement, I wanted a new pursuit that allowed me to spotlight my passion for sustainability. I wanted to begin painting again. These ideas blended serendipitously.


painting of a cabin on a mountain lake by Jack McGowan

“Beautiful Day Unfolding” oil on linen, 16” x 12”


I coined the term Sustpaintbility to highlight these ideas. Together with the power of art, I hope to evoke feelings about the earth and perhaps change behavior. To prep and finish paintings, I built the most energy-efficient futuristic art studio in North America. There is growing interest among painters in using safer materials and practices to create art—what I call Archival Sustpaintbility. I believe this will spawn a new trend in Green Art Collecting.


painting of a house and church in a mountain valley by Jack McGowan

“Sangre de Christo Spring North and South” (diptych), 14” x 8”


How do I select images to paint? “Management” by walking around, immersion in the company and employees, was my business style while in clean energy. “Composition” by walking around is what I do now. Rather than setting up and starting to paint, I take time to walk around and observe the landscape including color, light and shadow.


painting of a cabin in the mountains by Jack McGowan

“Morning Marks The Spot” oil on linen, 12” x 9”


Then I ask myself, “What attracted me to this scene?” I formulate a design concept that leverages a point of interest.


painting of a mountain lake with a red boat and cabin by Jack McGowan

“Red Boat With A View” oil on linen, 20” x 16”


Collectors often remark that my use of color draws them to my work. Color has captivated me over recent years, and I recall a great tip to “spend more time working color on the palette before touching brush to canvas.” Beginning with hue and judging the application of value, color temperature and Chroma, my focus is rendering color that brings what I’m seeing to life through paint. I love applying vivid color and then adding either warmer, cooler or complimentary colors to create emphasis on the focal point and aerial perspective. The goal is evoking appreciation for the landscape in finished works.


Artist Jack McGowan painting en plein air

Artist Jack McGowan painting en plein air


Time is precious for plein air painters. Although conditions change constantly, we still need to take time to develop the creative process as it is critical to the final painting. I try to create balance in my landscapes by including elements of humanity—villages, churches, pickup trucks and barns. This creates a counterpoint between nature and humanity. It raises a simple question about how we can meaningfully coexist without damaging the earth. Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Southern Colorado offer endless inspiration for me.

I’m a member of Plein Air Painters of New Mexico and the Oil Painters of America.​​​​


Artist Jack McGowan invites you to follow him by visiting the Santa Fe Art Collector Gallery.


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