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Mother Nature inspires Mendon artist’s award-winning paintings

January 27th, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

‘I just go out and wander around with an open mind, camera and a sketchbook. People probably think I am crazy staggering through the marsh and whatnot, but that’s OK.’

Story & photo by Josh Ruggles

MENDON — Artist Jim Morgan has lived in Mendon for more than three decades. He can be found hiking and exploring the wilderness, or in his studio painting. And according to several professionals, he is one of the best wildlife artists in the country.

“I respect him as one of the foremost wildlife painters, but he also does double duty with amazing work in landscapes,” said Chuck Neustifter, director of Simpson Gallagher Gallery in Cody, Wyo.

Morgan has received several awards and recognitions over the years, including the 2008 Master Wildlife Artist award at the Leigh Yawkey Woodsen Art Museum’s Birds in Art exhibit. This particular exhibit is one of the best collections of wildlife art in the world, said Tom Bassett, director of sales at Clagget Ray Gallery out of Vail, Colo.

Birds in Art is one of the most prestigious exhibits of wildlife art in the world. The art in the exhibit is not for sale, it is simply a collection of the best artwork they can find,” Bassett said.

Morgan has also won multiple artists’ choice awards from different organizations, and feels that awards from fellow artists are the accolades that mean the most to him.

“Like in any profession, the ones that mean the most to me are peer-generated awards. It’s just like a writer, you would probably rather have Ernest Hemingway say you’re a good writer, rather than someone down the road that likes your work,” Morgan said.

Morgan gets his inspiration from nature and in turn he is constantly traversing the wild, seeking out new ideas. Whenever he is hiking and exploring he brings with him a sketchpad and camera, in order to capture what he finds striking enough to put on canvas. As he journeys through the wild he doesn’t have an agenda, yet he always comes home with new ideas.

“My biggest inspiration is Mother Nature, bar none,” he said. “She is the ultimate composer and ultimate designer. A long time ago I decided that if I try to go and find something, whatever it is I never find it. I just go out and wander around with an open mind, camera and a sketchbook. People probably think I am crazy staggering through the marsh and whatnot, but that’s OK.”

Although he does go on art trips to different areas, or out of state, he gets most of his inspiration from Cache Valley and the surrounding countryside, sometimes even getting inspiration from looking out of his window.

“I have been to some really great places, but the reason we are here is, this area is so diverse. I can go across the road here in the spring and see sandhill cranes and up on the mountain you can see elk. Everything I am interested in is very close at hand,” Morgan said.

Being very passionate about the outdoors and wildlife, Morgan feels he has a unique opportunity to make a living while expressing his rapture with dabs of oil paint and brush strokes.

“I’ll always feel very fortunate to be able to do whatever it is I do. To do precisely what you want to do and make a living at it, beyond that everything is ice cream on the pie,” Morgan said.


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