Painter Roger Williams visits Vail gallery |

Painter Roger Williams visits Vail gallery

Wren Wertin
Vail CO, Colorado
Keeper of the Cloister 30 x 40

VAIL, Colorado ” You can work your whole life at something you love. But as artist Roger Williams can tell you, “Once it becomes a passion you’re screwed.” That’s when you keep following the light just around the next corner. And the next, and the next. The painter will be at Cogswell Gallery today from 3 to 7 p.m.

The artist, who paints both plein air and in the studio, is a consummate traveler. He packs paints and linen, easel and brushes, and sets off from Santa Fe to points elsewhere. Morocco, Italy, France, Mexico ” he spends months at a time translating life to canvas.

He enjoys painting in his studio, thanks to a fondness for music. “But I can always tell a plein-air painting,” he said. “They have a sense of immediacy and honesty. As my great teacher Richard Schmid said, ‘What you’re trying to do in the studio is match what you do in the field.'”

Williams might paint 80 canvasses in a year, some large studio works, others smaller plein-air pieces. “I’ve never been able to really accept that plein-air paintings are better than studio ones,” he said. “They’re just different.”

Williams’ paintings don’t challenge your politics or your religious beliefs; they do make you remember your place in the world. And they help put you there, inviting you to climb right in.

When pressed, he describes his style as modern traditionalism, but he’s more of a naturalist at heart. “The natural world is probably the most profound expression of elements all together,” he said. “As human beings, we’re part of that outer world. When you feel something from a painting ” that’s why French Impressionists were so successful. They were able to interface with the natural world and people could pick that up. They could feel it.”

Williams grew up in Colorado. Son of a 10th Mountain Division ski trooper, he remembers skiing at Wolf Creek when tow tickets were a buck. He’s more likely to back-country tele these days, and more likely still to head out on adventures.

He lives in Santa Fe not only for “the light,” which has become a bit of a cliche (with good reason), but it’s the third largest art market in the world. Once a teacher, he’s been a fine artist for roughly 28 years.

“This career chose me, I didn’t choose it,” he explained.

Becoming a professional painter means painting constantly, whether or not you feel like it. “You don’t have time to entertain inspiration,” he said. “You have to paint regardless, whether or not you have a hangover. Most days I’m inspired to paint. It kind of takes care of itself.”

Whether or not he’s always inspired to paint, the work itself is inspiring. “Roger is able to capture the light so perfectly,” said Scott Hilty, creative director of Cogswell Gallery. “He can put down the essence of a scene and put you there.”

And today only, Roger Williams will be there, too. For more information about the artist visit or call 476-1769.

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