In his Arizona studio, Jeff Ferst draws inspiration from the surrounding Sonoran Desert to create striking and surreal landscapes and abstract paintings. His works are all about color — how each hue plays off the others and how they can either subtly or boldly transform a blank canvas into a stunning statement.
Sunsets and skies are common themes in Jeff’s landscapes, often found over his native desert horizon. The colors seem to change in front of our eyes, blending and moving into one another just as they do in a sunset’s progression into night.
Other pieces are far more abstract and bright, colorful forms hint at flowers, fish, and other imagery. The lines and shapes dance across the canvas, pulling our attention from one part of the painting to another.
Jeff offered to share with us some insight into his artwork:
Who or what has influenced you the most?
Artists such as Klee and Kandinsky, colourists both as well as Van Gogh and the impressionists. Nowadays, the amazing natural setting of the Sonoran Desert with its unique flora and fauna, along with the sunrises and sunsets here in Tucson drive my palette and provide unlimited inspiration.
Describe for us a breakthrough moment in your work:
Standing on a mountain and watching the sun set on a day where there are some clouds — a guarantee of a spectacular show. Colours change by the second — and each one more glorious than the one before.
As an artist, what is it that you love about what you do?
It is such an organic and natural process. I am amazed how when I begin a painting, it evolves layer by layer, and the canvas and painting tell me what they need. Art also connects me to other people and to where I live. It provides a peace and tranquility for me — I need to paint and it is a way for me to express myself and tell my story.
If you weren’t a painter of desert skyscapes, what would you be?
Something creative — but really no matter what I would do, I would always remain an artist.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to learn more about what is behind Jeff’s artwork. I think his desert views and vibrant colors are a perfect antidote to the current brown landscape of Midwestern early spring, offering some warmth when the world outside is stark black and white.