Following a recent move from Utah to Arizona, Gregory Stocks has found himself captivated by his new surroundings—the saguaro cacti, the red rocks, the billowing clouds. Each landscape painting is a reaction to the environment, particularly how light interacts with the scene. His upcoming exhibition, Finding Light, at Mountain Trails Gallery in Sedona, Arizona, highlights these new pieces as well as autumnal forestry and lakes from other nearby states.
“I see the landscape as a stage that light plays out its drama on,” says Stocks. “And [it’s my goal] to find the different lights and environments and how those work. The landscape and the desert strikes me as interesting because it’s such a harsh environment, but painting them requires more subtlety than I would have thought. It’s been an interesting exploration of the light and the desert. It can be pretty dramatic.”
Stocks paints plein air often, but also
draws sketches and takes photographs of the landscape. The final compositions are an amalgamation of these elements, along with his memory, to build his impression of what he has seen. “I like to paint what I remember a place looking like,” he shares.
In Cloudbank Backdrop, Stocks paints saguaro cacti, a horizon line at almost center, and the clouds filling the upper portion of the composition. The focus of the work, Stocks explains, is the clouds themselves with their dramatic backlighting. “That’s what I was going for, that drama that portrays how the light can really enhance and create a dramatic atmosphere in the landscape,” he says.
Other works, such as Strata, Red Rock Vista and the Back Way, hone in on the rock formations—their colors, striations and how the light creates shadows. Strata, in particular, depicts a popular area just outside Sedona that he has painted at several different times of the day. He explains, “I like the monolithic quality of the rock formations and the face of the work and how the light plays off of it.”
Finding Light will be on view at the gallery from October 5 to 31, with a reception on opening night from 5 to 8 p.m. Julie R. Williams, director of Mountain Trails, adds, “We are very excited to see each and every painting that comes off the easel by Gregory Stocks. He’s an artist to watch as he captures the atmosphere and light, which is so special to the West.”
The Back Way, oil, 48 x 60"
Cloudbank Backdrop, oil, 48 x 48"
The Roaring Silence, oil, 48 x 60"
Red Rock Vista, oil, 48 x 48"