“I am most at home on a trail; in the wilderness; by a high mountain lake; above timberline; in the vast expanse of desert.
I feel most at ease standing at my easel; in a meadow of wildflowers; surrounded by aspens; perched on a rock by a rushing stream with watercolors in my lap.
I breathe a sigh of relief after driving to some remote painting site, with a 10 day supply of water, food and art supplies in my camper, and the nearest other campsite miles away; I am glad if there are cobwebs in my truck tires but not in my easel. “
Priscilla Wiggins lives outdoors year-round, painting her surroundings. She was given an easel at age 3 while attending an experimental school run by Columbia University in NYC and spent her childhood summers on a 25 mile-long lake in NH learning survival skills at her uncle’s camp. At Bennington College in Vermont she studied design and art history. She moved to the Southwest in 1968 and earned her B.A. at the University of New Mexico. By 1977 the appeal of the wilderness had led Wiggins to pursue her lifestyle of year-round camping and painting outdoors.
“Immersing myself in nature’s sights, sounds and smells is an integral part of my work, although on-site painting has its challenges- battling dust and high winds when I have to get creative with bungee cords; lugging my easel across cactus-covered hills to paint a desert landscape; or completing a watercolor between cloudbursts above timberline. I like working in different mediums: on hiking trips where I need to work fast, I use watercolors, often with pen and ink, enjoying their fresh, loose quality. When car-camping I choose oils, applied both loosely and thick, for the pure sensual quality of the paint.
“Realism has never been my intent, but to capture the essence of a landscape, and, in a subtle way, its effect on me inwardly. By painting outdoors, on-site, this dialogue between nature and myself has a chance to appear in the painting.
“I paint because nature deserves the attention: I feel its my job to point out how purple stands beside green; to show how the sky glimmers between pink and blue; to share the mystery of ‘now you see it, now you don’t ‘, like how the moon appears transparent at times, through clouds, behind mists. I paint because its all there, asking to be celebrated, and I find real truth in it.”
Priscilla Wiggins has had solo and group shows in Taos, Santa Fe, Durango and in Alpine and Marfa, Texas. As one reviewer wrote: “The immediacy of her landscapes, springing from an intimate sense of nature as her living room is inspiring. Like Thoreau, Wiggins has turned her back on the life of . . .the rat race. If you can’t get away to the outback, visiting a Wiggins show is almost compensation. This brave and determined woman has brought back visions in paint that remain on the retina a long time.”