"I stitch the border between impressionism …
"I stitch the border between impressionism and expressionism," he explains, masterfully reconciling these opposing styles. He paints outdoors, recording an ephemeral moment and the transient effects of light and color in a familiar landscape. But his work expresses the emotional essence of a scene rather than a faithful rendering of it.
"I focus on capturing the quirkiness of our life today - urban culture or mundane things, and I try to make them rich and beautiful without becoming too romantic. New Mexico is stunning canyons and high plateaus, but also broken-down fences and tourist traps. I paint the way the world is now, with Native Americans driving SUVs and using cell phones. I don't paint old visions of cowboys and Indians," Short says.
Struggling to "get more paint on my brush," he applies oil paint thickly in big, blocky brushstrokes. Up close, an abstract storm of brushstrokes dominates your vision, but when you stand back and gaze at the image, the reality of the scene emerges. Just the perspective you would expect from someone whose first look at New Mexico was from 10,000 feet, as the pilot of a hot air balloon.
"Whether I was gliding quietly over farmhouses or skimming pinons atop mesas, I was having a different interaction with the place than others, and developing a different eye. I am still drawn to painting at dawn or dusk, calm times that are best for ballooning," he explains. "I'm sure my penchant for having chaotic brushstrokes form harmony and order from a distance was born in ballooning."
You don't learn the desert in a few days, says the California native, who moved to New Mexico in high school and stud- ied art at the University of New Mexico before graduating from the Art Center College of Design. "The light is completely different. Because the vistas are big, the sky is vast, and colors are subtle, New Mexico begs you to paint large. There's an elusive quality about the desert that draws you to paint the same subject over and over. A quiet voice that keeps calling you."
Using a palette of warm and cool colors, but never black, he creates subtle tone changes within the same color. He fear-lessly brightens colors to reproduce "how the place felt." Because scenery changes constantly, he does numerous color studies of moments in nature and synthesizes them in the studio to create a single large painting.
"I want to inspire an emotional connection with the viewer, not just to the place, but how they feel about that place. Collectors of my work often tell me that a painting has created a catch basin of memories for them about a place, even if they've never been there. I try to under paint, to leave details up to the viewer so that more of their imagination comes into it and they end up being a part of the piece," Short says.