Peggy Trigg shares love of the natural world through art
Painting how the land feels
I paint a lot on Cebolla Mesa because it’s close and I can go on all the different BLM (Bureau of Land Management) roads. I go a lot to Utah and to Arizona, to the reservation land.””
— artist Peggy Trigg
by Anna Racicot
December 31, 2018
The mesas, the mountains, the streams, the cottonwoods and the fields of silver sage are the reasons Peggy Trigg paints. She paints to share this love of the natural world.
Trigg combines energies in her life and in her work, which might be considered contradictory, but which she has found to be complimentary: landscapes and abstracts; fine artist and high school teacher.
A rancher’s daughter who grew up near Madrid, New Mexico and who now lives with her partner, Mike Ridder in Questa, she said, “I love the energy of the land. I used to ride by myself a lot, all day. I just love the land. I’m trying to capture the energy of the land and the moment.”
Trigg credits her dad and her art teachers for encouraging her to follow an artistic path. “I won contests and things like that when I was little.” An art teacher helped her to obtain a university scholarship, and Trigg also embraced teaching.
In addition to a career of teaching art at large high schools in Albuquerque where she was grateful for the opportunity to touch the next generation of artists and from which she has recently retired, Trigg has paralleled that success in the gallery world. Currently, her paintings show at La Mesa Gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, Wilder Nightingale Gallery in Taos, the Weyrich Gallery in Albuquerque and the Metier in Dixon.
In 2017 Trigg garnered the Artistic Excellence Award at the Escalante Plein Aire Festival and this year exhibited at the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, was featured at the Weyrich Gallery, and participated in a juried show.
Plein aire painting has captured Trigg’s focus. At least three days a week she feels pulled to paint in the open air.
“I paint a lot on Cebolla Mesa because it’s close and I can go on all the different BLM (Bureau of Land Management) roads.” Because Trigg also enjoys the open spaces that remind her of growing up on a ranch, she said, “I go a lot to Utah and to Arizona, to the reservation land.”
Plein aire was a natural direction for Trigg to explore after retiring. “Being a teacher, I was stuck inside so much of the time,” she said. “I wanted to be back there in the elements, feeling the sun on my back, and the wind, and getting bugs in my pictures and dirt.”
While this might strike some as extreme, for Trigg it enhances her process. “I really appreciate spontaneity and freshness,” she tells. “When you paint in acrylics in plein aire, you have to work really, really fast.”
There is, she explains, spontaneity about plein aire painting as long as you don’t take it back to the studio and work it to death.”
To understand how important the fresh brush stroke is to Trigg, the viewer need only glance at Trigg’s studio. Landscapes and abstracts equally fill the space. In the winter when it is difficult to be outside as much, she expands her perspective and loosens her technique through abstract painting.
“When I work with abstracts, I think about meaning,” she said. When teaching abstract art, she asked her students, “What does red mean? What does blue mean?”
She introduced students to look at color the way interior designers do when creating a mood. Abstracts, she says, are about feeling and intuition, but also about composition. “You can throw everything down in an intuitive manner, but if the composition’s not there, it (the painting) doesn’t work.”
Trigg not only alternates between her greatest loves in painting, landscapes and abstracts, she melds them. “I try to have a creative approach to landscape. I try to make my pictures look like the land feels, not necessarily how it looks, but how it feels.”
“I love the land so much and the abstract.” Her landscapes, she feels, “are a marriage between the two.”
Trigg’s enthusiasm shows itself in her commitment to arts in the Questa area. She and Questa painter Roger Harrington steer the Questa Creative Council which, among many other artistic projects, sponsors the Questa Studio Tour. “It’s surprising to me how many artists we have here. There were over 40 on the studio tour. And I really like the traditional arts. That’s a really strong aspect of this area,” she adds.
Of the art market, Trigg demonstrates a pragmatic optimism. “We have to evolve and change our marketing platforms. You have to work a lot of different markets these days.” Trigg does well on many. She sells well on her website and on the studio tour and performs demonstrations at the gallery in Santa Fe.