"If you paint landscape long enough, why you're part of the landscape."
During his sixty-five years as an artist, Karl Albert has delved into the vistas of Mexico, Hawaii, Samoa, and Tahiti. Closest to his heart, however, are the California desert near Palm springs and the mountains and arroyos near Santa Fe, New Mexico. "I paint the desert because I like the desert," Karl says. "It's the only place where you can see forever."
Born in 1911 and reared on a Wyoming ranch, Karl began his pictorial exploration of infinity near Oro Grande, California, at the age of nineteen. He worked with his friend Darwin Duncan, exploring and painting what was then trackless wilderness.
Karl studied with other artists as well, Edgar Payne and Sam Hyde Harris chief among them. With Payne, he learned to paint the grand gesture of the High Sierras; with Harris, he developed an eye for foreground and detail. It was with Harris that Karl would go again and again into the Mojave Desert, South Pasadena and Palm springs.
When discussing his stunning ability to paint the dusky desert air--so convincingly that one can almost feel it--Karl is sanguine. "It's just a matter of seeing things as they are, " he says. "It has to do with a sense of color and value. You're born with it."
Karl hones his painting skills at the Art Center College in Los Angeles. Formal training aside, he worked rigorously until reaching the point, in the mid- 1970s, of mastered photo realism--and in doing so he rejected it. "I like painting that has a little more--well, use whatever word you want--romance," he says.
And for Karl, the romance of painting his world will never fade.
Karl Albert is a Life Member of Laguna Beach Museum and Grand Central Gallery, New York. His work is in the permanent collection in the Santa Fe Museum.