After a nearly 15-year career as an illustrator, Robert Peters shifted his path in the mid-1990s to fine art specializing in landscapes of the Southwest. Since then he has flourished, building an oeuvre that depicts places spanning from northeastern Yellowstone to Colorado to Wyoming and Montana. His pieces are of all seasons and times of day, having found that nature, with its fleeting qualities, lends itself more to spontaneity than preplanned ideas.

“I used to go out with a premeditated thought, but I’ve learned you just have to take what you’re given,” he says. “It’s kind of a creed that I live by. I go out and experience it and come away with something.”

During his time in the landscape, the self-proclaimed outdoorsman will take in his surroundings, sometimes making sketches and jotting down notes. A combination of these elements becomes the jumping-off point for his paintings. “I’m pretty much a studio painter, so I’m not doing plein air,” Peters explains. “I’m looking at sketches, photographs and relying on experiences. That is what I get my ideas from, but almost invariably it starts with a small thumbnail sketch.”

Having painted many of these locales before, Peters keeps his work fresh by always challenging himself as an artist. “One of the things that motivates me the most is always trying to improve,” he elaborates. “That’s what has kept my interest and energy up—always trying to do better than the last piece. Maybe that’s the competitive nature that I have, but that’s always my goal. I always want to see some improvement in my work.”

Peters’ newest works, including Wintery Waters and Lamar Valley Gold, will be on view July 19 to 29 at the Legacy Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming.

In describing the former painting, Peters says, “That’s an area that’s very close to where I lived in Durango, Colorado. I spent a lot of time there over the years. Winter in that part of the region is super beautiful because the mountains are right there and there’s a tremendous amount of snow.”

Lamar Valley Gold depicts northern Yellowstone with buffalo in the fall. “It’s beautiful country [land], and you can’t beat it for seeing wildlife,” says the artist. “If you drive around there any time at all, you’ll see buffalo.”

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