KM Withers: Painted Landscapes of the American West

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Oil Paintings

Light and shadow define KM Withers’ oil painted landscapes of the American West. As a modern-day nomad, Withers is in her element painting the great outdoors. . . usually deserts in the winter and mountains or the high Colorado Plateau in the summer, but she makes each place her home as she does.

With a strong attention to color, Withers’ stylized art is often painted plein air amid spectacular wildness and tranquility.

“My work has moved from impressionism to a more abstract quality over the years,” she says. “I feel a strong pull in this direction. Traditional, realistic motifs are moving toward abstracted landscapes with a sense of space and strong color harmonies.”

Solid stone walls of varying colors give away their ancient age with each exposed layer of compressed sediment in Below the Rim – Grand Canyon, seen below.

Copper and bronze slabs should radiate warmth on such a bright day, yet the canyon’s high embankments cast shadows that chill the landscape to its very core upon the setting of the sun.

below the rim - grand canyon

A trail of water rich in minerals makes its lazy way through the canyon until commanding, statue-like pillars of rock in the background close off its passageway. This painting’s abstract qualities allow the stone to be seen for what is simply is—unyielding and unbreakable.

I can’t help but realize that although the water may dry up one day, the rock formed by its passage will persist throughout the ages.

With its dusty browns and sparse foliage, Road to Zion looks is an arid, sun-baked landscape indeed. Bushes in this desert are compact, and the rock unforgiving. As clouds move quickly by, I can’t imagine anything in this setting but a lighthearted tumbleweed moving along at the same speed.

road to zion

So hot and dry is life here that all movement must surely be as slow and deliberate as that of a tortoise. Only a car zooming down the sand-covered road would disturb this quiet lifestyle. . . No doubt the people within that car would view this landscape as simply a means of getting from point A to point B, but Withers definitely captured the beauty of this barren land that few may appreciate, unless perhaps on their own spiritual journey.

Lastly, when I think of a sanctuary, I think of lush, abundant life. And, what is life without water? Therefore, my visions always include waterfalls, fountains or at least rhythmic ripples within crystal-clear water. That’s why Sanctuary – Lake Powell was so enlightening to me.

There is water, yes, but it is so still and perfect that it brings to mind other synonyms for “sanctuary,” such as “peace,” “natural” and “safe-haven.”

sanctuary - lake powell

A barrier of rock engraved with the hand of time gives Lake Powell a sense of security. If one were to speak here, his or her words would likely echo throughout this landscape, disturbing its stillness with a loud, unnecessary call for attention. Even the simplicity in color here—the wide range of red—is suitably calming.

Take a minute today, or several, to view more of KM Withers’ stylized oil paintings by visiting her website. You’ll be glad you did!


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