Art We Love

Topher Straus: In Celebration of Our National Parks

Working out of his picturesque hometown of Golden, Colorado, it’s no wonder that Topher Straus finds inspiration in the natural world. In his recent series “The Parks,” Topher blends photography with digital painting to create colorful, large-scale renderings of the United States’ National Parks. Printed on aluminum and finished with high-gloss acrylic resin, Topher’s sweeping vistas bring the outdoors in. The unforgettably impactful series has been exhibited at the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, New York; Bitfactory Gallery in Denver, Colorado; and the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden, Colorado. We spoke with the artist to learn more.

What does your process entail?

My process includes modern technology and methods that are sparsely utilized by creators of fine art. I examine a photograph, looking for the most intriguing aspects of the image and for the most prominent colors. Then I take my stylus and select specific colors from the original image—to create a palette—and paint over the photograph with those original colors. 

 

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The end result is a well-known landscape engulfed in contoured lines that superimpose the autogenous beauty of the original photograph. I take recognizable, natural landscapes and convert them into a modern array of sharp lines— blending and contorting them up the slope of a mountain or shaping the soft, blurred lines of a waterfall. 

What was the inspiration for this series?

The Parks series was created during the government shutdown of 2019, which led to all national parks being closed. I felt a strong urge to recreate and distribute these beautiful landscapes at a time when their accessibility was non-existent. I am an avid outdoorsman and an advocate for environmental preservation. Being a resident of the Rocky Mountains, I’m reminded of Earth’s natural beauty every time I step outside, thus bringing me further motivation to create meaningful landscapes that help others to appreciate the National Parks. 

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About the Author

Bethany Fincher is a curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service at saatchiart.com/artadvisory.