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(Richfield, UT, 1903 - 1973, Provo, UT)
Western realist Paul Salisbury has achieved more notability as a cowboy/western painter than any other Utah artist of these scenes. His oil paintings represent nature and its inhabitants with subtle realism. Throughout his life, Salisbury was devoted to scenes of the American Indian, the Western cowboy and landscape.
Salisbury's early years were spent on his father's ranch in Richfield, Utah, near the Kanosh Indian Reservation. There he gained a sympathetic awareness and understanding of the western landscape and its inhabitants. During his younger years, he worked for his father on the family ranch, but as often as possible, Paul took off and drew the scenery and animals around him.
Salisbury received formal art training under his uncle, Cornelius Salisbury, who encouraged him in his artistic pursuits. Paul continued his education at Brigham Young University under B. F. Larsen and E. H. Eastman. He also was privately instructed by LeConte Stewart, a noted Utah landscape artist. Paul studied for several years with the renowned western artist, Frank Tenney Johnson. He stated many times that Johnson was the strongest influence in his art. When Johnson passed away in 1939, Paul and Chloe left California to bring their family back to Utah. He used the same palette of 5 colors and white that Johnson used until Pauls' death in 1970. Despite his early training as an artist, he made a living as a musician and it was not until the early 1950's that Salisbury was able to work continuously as a painter. When he did, he attracted a great deal of attention.
The growing trend during the 1950s and 1960s toward cowboy/western art manifested itself in the paintings of Paul Salisbury of Provo. He was Utah's first significant "Cowboy and Indian" artist. As one of Utah's very few professional artists, he worked full time on his art and was not affiliated with a university or another occupation, but occasionally taught workshops and classes in painting.
Salisbury’s painting, Mountain Solitude, demonstrates that there are no harsh colors in nature. Here, he has rendered the desert valley in muted earthtones and the mountains in gentle blue grays. These delicate colors and the use of short brushstrokes create a soft texture that combine with his treatment of light to enhance the calm atmosphere in the painting.
Salisbury’s success as a painter is due in part to his conservative painting style, which is perfectly suited to traditional Utah tastes. Another factor in his success is his ability to create unity in his paintings by using a consistent tonality and bold composition.