Painted exclusively outdoors, Todd Matson’s work depicts a wide variety of subjects: dark hidden forests, flower gardens, farms, Southwestern vistas, and still-lifes. All of his pieces are to some degree about light and color, but these two elements are handled in a subdued and natural way, typical of the work of the California plein-air painters of the early 20th century.
Nine years ago, he quit his “day job” to devote himself full time to paint plein air landscapes, most which are completed in the Midwest and Southwest…most of which are completed within a 20-mile radius of his Kansas home. “It’s a great life. I drop my kids off at school in the morning, take a drive, find wonderful things to paint, and get back home before they do,” Matson explains.
Matson has always loved painting, but never realized it could be a solid career until he visited a gallery run by a friend’s father, where he saw a one-man show by John Encinias. From that time on he began painting in earnest but he felt his work was “just empty headed” in the beginning. He then took an inspiring workshop from William F. Reese who helped him with both technique and focus.
Todd began showing his works in galleries in 1983. As a young artist his work is only beginning to receive the attention it deserves but his career continues to advance. He was featured as an Artist to Watch in the February 2001 Southwest Art Magazine and he most recently won a fellowship from the Claude and Polly Lambe Trust.
“Why do I paint? I don’t know how or why I got started doing this, but now there is something about being so in tune and focused while I’m painting that makes me want to keep doing it. Contrary to the notion of “painting to relax,” every painting session leaves me either ecstatic or distressed. It’s not a finished painting that I am after per se. A good painting is only the by-product of painting successfully. Clarifying his preference for on-site painting, he says, “Painting in a studio–taking days or weeks to complete a single piece–may involve the same emotions, but painting plein-air brings me intense and immediate results.”