Francis Livingston: Absorbing the Scene

Courtesy Western Art Collector, November 2016


“I just kind of let things evolve,” says Francis Livingston about his diverse array of works, from whales and other wild animals admiring great architecture in populated cities to his Western works that whisper back to romantic eras in places throughout the Southwest, particularly Taos, New Mexico. ’’I have a few collectors who cross over from the contemporary and the Western work. It's interesting to see what people are interested in.”

 For Livingston’s new show, opening November 18 at Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery in Tucson, Arizona, the artist once again returns to the Southwest with pieces such as Autumn Patterns, featuring three figures wrapped in blankets in a cluster of vividly hued trees. "With that one, it was fun creating those shapes—the trees, branches, leaves, figures and blankets—and then keeping them from being too specific. I want viewers to have a general feeling about the area,” the Idaho painter says. “I really enjoyed consolidating all those shapes into the pattern you see. In many ways it's a design problem that needs to be solved and not a painting problem.”


 The artist, who has an extensive background in illustration, says he likes to sketch on location, where he can "absorb the feeling, and get back to the feeling of the Southwest.” He continues, "It takes a certain frame of mind, particularly because the imagery is historical, but not historically detailed.”


The Gallery Says –

“Francis Livingstons paintings have a clear vision of composition and color sensibilities. His unique artistic voice resonates strongly with collectors.

 – Mark Sublette, president, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery



A hallmark of Livingston’s work is his delicate use of color, to which he says he’s forgotten everything he’s learned about the subject, from the color wheel to color theory. 

“My color has evolved into this intuitive way of working for me. I just work and I’ll lay in anything. I don’t really think about blocking in these colors, I‘ll start with something that’s neutral over a drawing and then start applying color and experimenting. I’ll reach for a tube and wonder what will happen, then stand back and see where it comes from. The experimentation leads to happy accidents,” he says, adding that he’s inspired more by abstract expressionism than realism. “To a lot of artists it’s a very haphazard way of painting. They ask why I picked the color and I tell them I just wanted to try it. I never know what I’m going to end up with. I’ll just embrace the color and accept that I don’t know.