The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

Thomas Moran

Published Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 in Artwork · « · »
Thomas Moran (1837-1926); Cliffs of Green River; 1874; Oil on canvas; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; 1975.28

When I started this blog nearly a decade ago, I intended it to be a place for me to record my thoughts and reflections about two things very important to me: art and exploration. So far, I’ve driveled on ad nauseum about exploration but I’ve been rather mute when it comes to talking about art. Well, that’s about to change.

You see, although art was among my earliest and most beloved of hobbies, I let it slip away as I grew older and busier. When I went to university, I elected to take chemistry classes over drawing classes, biology classes over painting classes. At the time, I felt my priorities were appropriate—I loved science and wanted to put it at the forefront of my studies. But what I didn’t realize at the time was I had initiated a habit of putting my art hobby on the back burner. This habit soon became a long-term theme.

Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926). Mist in Kanab Canyon, 1892. Oil on canvas. Public domain image, Wikipedia.

When I left school and entered the workforce, I tried to win back time to devote to my artwork. But I discovered that Corporate America was to be a cruel and time-hungry taskmaster that left me with no spare time to devote to something as frivolous as an art hobby. Over the years, my artistic skills grew rusty and stagnant. It became too frustrating for me to even try to draw or paint. So I packed up my art supplies and pushed them into the darkest corner of my bedroom closet.

Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926). Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 1904. Oil on canvas. Public domain image, Wikipedia.

But recently, something’s shifted in me. Despite all the deadlines and all the demands, my job just doesn’t capture my attention—my gut fears—the way it once did. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen it all before—the never-ending overtime, the ever-demanding customers, the eternal loom of the next big project. I’ve grown immune to the routine, numb to the irritations. I feel myself coasting. The downside of all this is that I think I’m suffering from an acute case of mid-career burnout. The upside is that I am painting again.

Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926). Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, 1903. Oil on canvas. Public domain image, Wikipedia.

Which brings me to Thomas Moran, the British-born, American-bred painter whose work is shown throughout this post. Now that I’m painting again, I’m looking for inspiration. And what better inspiration could I find than the work of Thomas Moran, one of the most gifted painters of the American West and, hands-down, one of my personal favorite artists of all time.

Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926). Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, 1875. Oil on canvas. 24.8 x 35.6 cm. Public domain image, Wikipedia.

You can read about the life and work of Thomas Moran here. I’m no art historian so I’ll leave the details to the experts. One thing I will note though is that if you happen to notice some hints of JMW Turner in Moran’s work, there’s a reason for that—Turner’s work provided inspiration for Moran. It’s reassuring to know everyone needs a bit of inspiration along the way.

Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926). The Cavern, California Coast, 1919. Oil on canvas. 35 x 51 cm. Private collection. Public domain image, Wikipedia.
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