Louisa McElwain was a renowned artist who painted large-scale landscapes outdoors, capturing the beauty and energy of nature with bold strokes and vibrant colors. She was also a passionate environmentalist, a devoted mother, and a generous friend. She died on March 13, 2013, at the age of 59, leaving behind a legacy of stunning paintings and a mystery of her untimely death.
A Life Full of Art and Adventure
Louisa McElwain was born in 1953 in Tripoli, Libya, where her father was a diplomat. She grew up in various countries, such as Iran, Pakistan, and Germany, developing a love for travel and culture. She studied art at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her BFA degree in 1975. She then moved to New York City, where she worked as a graphic designer and illustrator.
In 1985, she relocated to New Mexico, where she fell in love with the landscape and the light. She began painting outdoors, using a large canvas attached to the back of her pickup truck. She used a knife duct-taped to a stick to apply thick layers of paint, creating expressive and dynamic compositions. She said, “I paint outdoors in all sorts of conditions, open to the impulse of changing light, wind, heat, cold, insects and all forces of Nature that bring life into my paintings.”
She painted in various locations, such as the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Rio Grande Gorge, and the Chama River Valley. She also traveled to other states and countries, such as Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, France, and Italy, to paint different landscapes. She often painted at sunrise or sunset, when the light was most dramatic and ephemeral. She said, “I am interested in exploring a way of describing my experience of places in Nature, without subordinating the marks and strokes of paint to the motif.”
She exhibited her paintings in numerous galleries and museums, such as the Tucson Museum of Art, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, and the Evoke Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe. She received many awards and honors, such as the Best of Show at the Oil Painters of America National Exhibition in 2009. She also published several books and catalogs, such as “Louisa McElwain: Paintings of the New West” and “Louisa McElwain: The Rhythm of the Sky”.
She was also a dedicated environmentalist, who supported various causes and organizations, such as the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, and the Audubon Society. She donated many of her paintings to raise funds and awareness for environmental issues. She said, “The awe I feel for the magnificent and the mysterious manifestations of Creation is the compelling force in my work, and is what establishes my rapport with so many people who are deeply moved by this aspect of their lives here in the West.”
She was also a loving mother, who raised her son, Ian, as a single parent. She taught him to appreciate nature and art, and to follow his dreams. She was also a loyal friend, who helped and supported many fellow artists and colleagues. She was described by her friends and fans as a kind, generous, and adventurous person, who had a zest for life and a joy for painting.
A Death Full of Questions and Silence
Louisa McElwain’s cause of death has not been revealed by her family or her doctors. She died at her home in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, where she lived with her son and her dogs. Her obituary did not mention any details about her health condition or the circumstances of her death.
Her death came as a shock and a grief to the art community, who mourned her loss and celebrated her legacy. Many tributes and condolences were posted on social media, expressing admiration and sorrow for her work and her personality. Some sources speculated that she had been suffering from a terminal illness, while others suggested that she had taken her own life. However, none of these claims have been confirmed or verified.
Louisa McElwain’s cause of death remains a mystery, and it is unclear whether it will ever be disclosed. However, her life and her legacy will not be a mystery, as they will continue to live on in her paintings and in the hearts of her family, friends, and fans. She was a landscape painter, who painted with passion and courage, and who left a lasting impression on the art world.