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Grant’s colorful landscapes are painted from experience

Heidi Rice
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
“Trail Ridge Tundra,” oil on panel, 25” x 36”, is one of up to 20 paintings by artist Lanny Grant of Silt Mesa to be on display Aug. 4-Sept. 27 at the Colorado Mountain College Gallery, 831 Grand Ave., in downtown Glenwood Springs.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Pick your subject, organize your idea and paint what you see and feel.

Those are the words of advice from artist Lanny Grant, describing how he produces colorful landscape paintings that are exhibited in local galleries, and throughout the state and the country.

Grant is the featured artist through August and September at the Colorado Mountain College Gallery in Glenwood Springs.



“I always base a painting on a real experience,” Grant explained. “I’ve been there and I’ve seen it.”

Grant, now 58, is a Glenwood Springs native and currently lives in Silt. He began painting when he was a child, exploring the wonders of the mountains on his dad’s 40-acre ranch in Peach Valley.



“I always tell people the story about when I was in the third grade and I got in trouble with a friend of mine because we erased the lesson on the blackboard and did some drawings,” he said with a smile.

“The teacher wasn’t happy with it, but the next day she came to class with a roll of white paper under her arm and told us that we were going to draw pictures of the history of the world for the class. To this day, I can still hear the squeak of markers and the smell of ink.”

His teacher wasn’t the only one who recognized his budding talent.

When he was 10, Grant broke his left wrist and his mom came home with a ream of white paper. He began to sketch trees and pictures of fishing trips he had taken.

“I also got an oil painting set for Christmas that year, and I progressed into color,” Grant said.

The fishing trips turned into sketches and paintings of landscapes. Eventually Grant began translating impressions gathered from nature and the changing moods of the Rocky Mountains into compelling paintings evolving into his signature style.

Grant learned through his painting and continued to study art through courses in art history, painting, design, life drawing and sculpture at Adams State College in Alamosa in 1971 and 1972.

One of his earliest art influences was Ben Turner of Albuquerque, N.M. Grant met him while Turner was spending time in Redstone with his friend, painter Jack Roberts.

“He was the first real artist I ever met,” Grant said. “My dad was delivering some heating oil in Redstone and Ben said to bring me up. It’s probably the reason I’m still painting today.”

Turner has since passed away, and Grant has one of Turner’s handmade easels, which he says is one of his most prized possessions to this day.

Turner also gave Grant’s father a piece of advice about his son.

“He’s got it,” he said simply.

“Whatever ‘it’ means,” Grant said with a shrug and a smile.

“It” is Grant’s artistic talent, as his mountain scene paintings of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Canada hang in galleries in the West, in the governor’s reception hall in the state Capitol building in Denver, and at the Vatican in Rome.

It was 2002 when Grant was commissioned to create a painting of Mount of the Holy Cross to commemorate the 1993 visit to Colorado by Pope John Paul II.

“Dr. Kurt Papenfus was an emergency room doctor who was working as part of the medical team for the Pope’s visit,” Grant recalled. “He met the Pope and later visited him in 2002, and thought a painting of the Holy Cross would be a perfect gift.”

Grant’s work is also featured in the popular greeting cards of Leanin’ Tree Publishing Co. of Boulder, and his paintings have been listed in the annual Arts for the Parks Top 100 finalist’s competitions in 1995 and 2002 in Jackson, Wyo.

Other influences on his work have included J.M.W. Turner, a famous English romantic landscape painter from the 18th Century, and Jonathan Trumball, an American artist of the 1800s whose “Declaration of Independence” painting was later featured on two-dollar bills. Trumball is also a distant relative of Grant’s.

One of his biggest influences was Ramon Froman, a Texas artist who conducted summer art workshops in New Mexico.

“I graduated from Rifle High School in 1971 and then went to his summer art school for four weeks in New Mexico and studied portrait painting,” Grant said. “I learned probably more about the fundamentals from him than anyone I know.”

In addition to his painting career, Grant is an instructor at the Colorado Mountain College West Garfield County campus in Rifle where he teaches art classes for youngsters ages 7 – 14.

“I like working with kids,” Grant said. Teaching, he said, “gives them the fundamental building blocks that they can build on.”

Grant’s teachings are based on five fundamentals, which he also uses in creating his own artwork.

The first one is observation.

“That’s the foundation for all of it. That’s where it’s grounded. You see not only with your eyes, but you’re seeing with your heart,” he said. “It’s awareness and heightened sensitivity. Pay attention to the things that stop you in your tracks.”

The second fundamental is drawing.

“You take a two-dimensional surface and transform it,” he said simply.

The third is to pick a subject for your design and composition.

“Put an idea together and challenge the landscape,” he advised. “When you’re painting, decide what you’re going and not going to put in. Organize your idea.”

Grant’s fourth fundamental of painting is to look at the values.

“Look and your light and your shadows. Look at the wonder of light,” he said.

The fifth and final fundamental is that of color.

“It’s kind of like building a house,” Grant explained. “You figure out the foundation, where you’re going to put it and what kind of structure it will be. But in art, the strength of the foundation is in the strength of your idea. Color is the emotional impact that really makes the painting sing.

“Painting is the visual music. That’s why a lot of artists listen to music while they paint,” he added.

And to sum up the life of an artist?

“The goal is to live a long enough life to learn and be passionate about what you’re doing – to make it second nature,” Grant said. “It all comes back to the strength of the idea. If the idea is strong enough, it will paint the painting.”


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