Phyllis Kapp's ecstatic watercolors never fail to elevate and inspire. Collectors and newcomers alike love the spontaneity and sheer joyfulness of her landscapes, paintings that transform the Southwest into a wonderland of myriad colors. "I love to play while I paint," she says. "I love to make people smile." Phyllis is indisputably the Southwest's most delightful watercolorist, her dreamlike landscapes instantly recognizable and adored by her collectors and fans. People return year after year to experience her work and to renew their friendship with her. New visitors are amazed that she can achieve such a depth and vibrancy of color with watercolor, a medium that is perfectly suited to her spontaneous, daring approach. Never one to accept restrictions, Phyllis paints the world as she sees it. "My paintings are wonderful fantasies," she says, "About how the land and the sky feel to me." Recent excursions into plein air painting have, however, added a dimension of realism to some of the artist's work. On numerous trips to Abiquiu Phyllis has absorbed the landscape of Northern New Mexico and the resulting paintings have an additional charm. Her status as one of the state's finest landscape painters has been recognized by the Albuquerque Museum, which included a number of her paintings in its 'Landscapes of New Mexico' show in July 2001. Phyllis has also been painting further afield.
“I learned to paint in a garden,” reminisces Kapp, remembering her upbringing in Chicago. Born in that city, she loved spending time in River Park near her home, saying with a laugh, “I almost lived there.” She eventually attended the Art Institute of Chicago and Cornell University, majoring in art and botany.
Marriage and family (Kapp has four children) occupied the artist days before she returned to
painting full time. In 1984, she moved to Santa Fe and established a studio on Canyon Road. That studio soon evolved into Waxlander Gallery, for which she used her maiden name, and today it is a dynamic and popular venue.
Kapp is widely acknowledged for as one of the foremost interpreters of the southwestern landscape. The artist admits to her passion for her subject. “My art is about the land and sky, but it is also about a state of mind, a feeling of joy, of being one with the universe.”
She rediscovers her joy on each painting excursion and makes these frequently in the Ghost Ranch area. This unusual region near Abiquiu with its dramatic cliffs and colors has been one of Kapp’s primary sources of inspiration for the past 15 years. She also draws on terrain in the entire four corners region in travels through Utah, Colorado and Arizona. These days, she says she paints outside more than inside. She finds the early and late parts of the day “the most magical”.