Cinematic Paintings Capture the Tranquil Beauty of a Romanticized American Southwest

Desert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen Johnson

Artist Brett Allen Johnson captures the tranquil beauty of the American Southwest in immersive oil paintings. He carefully renders his memories of pristine desert places that are dominated by vermillion rock formations and blanketed by bright blue skies. Together, they create mesmerizing snapshots of the iconic terrain.

Johnson's love of the West began in childhood, with his frequent travels around his home state of Utah and to Sedona, Arizona, where his grandparents resided. Through his training in drawing, design, and painting, he began to cultivate a unique style that emphasizes the light and shapes of landscapes. “These badlands and deserts, the arid canyons, the playas, and great basins—these are where my work began, where it begins,” Johnson says. In his rendered vistas, the environment is the primary subject, and the people, animals, and even plants that cohabit are decorative in comparison.

While these depictions look like real portrayals of the desert, they are usually created from Johnson's imagination. “I am not often a painter of literal places,” he explains. “I regularly invent entire works or paint them from memory. I like to invite observers into a world that is merely similar to the one they know, an adjacent world. Perhaps, the adjacent West.” The towering red mountains, overwhelming cerulean skies, and cactus-dotted ground that are so often featured in Johnson's paintings are some of the common iconographies we associate with the Southwestern landscape. Similarly, the occasional horse and cowboy imbue these open spaces with an escapist romanticism.

You can purchase available paintings through Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Los Angeles, and keep up to date with Johnson's latest work by following him on Instagram.

Utah-based artist Brett Allen Johnson creates exquisite depictions of the desert.

Desert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen Johnson

He is inspired by the tranquil beauty of the American Southwest.

Desert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen Johnson

Johnson paints places from his memories of the desert, creating a romanticized image.

Desert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonDesert Landscape Paintings by Brett Allen JohnsonBrett Allen Johnson: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Brett Allen Johnson.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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