Photo by Sung Moon Photography. Painter Claudia Hartley’s colorful pointillism brings landscapes to life.

Artist of the Month: Claudia Hartley

Written by Jackie Dishner Category: Arts Issue: October 2017
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Painter Claudia Hartley’s colorful pointillism brings landscapes to life.

In artist Claudia Hartley’s landscapes, the world is happier. Not Bob Ross happy, but Hartley happy: exaggeratedly colorful. Mountains, valleys and trees become an abstract collection of sweeping, boxy bright yellows, oranges, reds, purples and pastels – along with her signature white clouds and layered squares of blue and ochre sky.

“I like color. It excites me,” says the 72-year-old Southerner, who graduated art school at the University of Georgia in 1963. “I used to paint dark, dreary, drippy paintings,” she says. She came to New River in 1998 to live out a childhood dream of moving West. Nature took over.

“Nature is where I discovered joy. So now I paint colorful landscapes,” she says of the beautiful trails she hikes and sketches before immortalizing them in paint.

Coloring-book lines, paint-by-number kits and the post-Impressionists are among her influences. Her blue square skies are reminiscent of Georges Seurat’s pointillism. Hartley’s “dots” are painted with a thicker brush, longer strokes and less paint.

From a palette of acrylic colors divided into an L-shape of warm and cool tones, she dips her filbert brush in the paint, always first bathing the entire canvas in ochre. Next comes a quick outline of the composition in rust. Then she works one section of the canvas at a time, careful not to blend too much and to leave some rust and ochre exposed for that layered look.

Hartley, who now lives in the Verde Valley, will be teaching a course titled “Abstracting the Landscape” at the Scottsdale Artists’ School on October 16-19. Locally, her work is sold at and her website is

— Jackie Dishner