Forgotten Americana – Jason Kowalski

© Jason Kowalski


Jason Kowalski was raised in the Upper Midwest and moved to Laguna Beach, CA in 2005 to study painting at Laguna College of Art and Design.  Jason’s professional career begun with great success when his first solo exhibition at Terrence Rogers Fine Art in Santa Monica, CA sold out in the first two weeks. In 2009, Jason received his Bachelors degree in Fine Art from Laguna College of Art and Design. Recently, Jason, his wife Maria and young son Wyeth, relocated to the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Monument, Colorado.  There he finds inspiration in the beauty of the mountain landscape to the west, foothills and rock outcroppings to the north, and rolling plains to the east.


Hi Jason, how did you originally become interested in painting?

Most visual learners are creative people. I knew this about myself at an early age. I attended Laguna College of Art and Design, an art focused institution. Once in college I was able to experiment with many different art forms and found that I liked painting the best.

Many of the landscapes and subjects you paint have a nostalgic touch for the glory days of the great American highways, how did you come to focus on this?  

The great American highway is particularly fascinating because when it was completed it changed the American landscape. The highway was a symbol of adventure and offered opportunity to eager entrepreneurs. Like the railroad in the western era, the highway was small town America’s life blood. I value nostalgia and believe that every forgotten place along the highway has an interesting story. To honor the stories of the past, I paint places/objects as they exist in the world today.

Although photorealistic, there is also a roughness to your work, how would you describe your work and style?

Nature is not flat, it has texture, color and volume. Much like the early California Impressionists, I believe that seeing the stroke of the artist’s paintbrush can create an intriguing narrative in any landscape painting.

“Like the railroad in the western era, the highway was small town America’s life blood. I value nostalgia and believe that every forgotten place along the highway has an interesting story.”

Jason Kowalski in his studio

Arrow Motel © Jason Kowalski

There is an undeniable Americanness about your work, why not focus on the great American natural landscape?

Because I find beauty in the undone, the abandon, and in the shadows of a greatness that once was, I choose to paint the landscape as it has been influenced by humanity.

Do you go on roadtrips yourself to gain inspiration for your work?

Yes, I love to explore new places. The best subject matter is off the beaten path.

“Nature is not flat, it has texture, color and volume.”

left: Aster & Cypress, right: Mountain Saloon © Jason Kowalski

Where else do you look for inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere. I find it talking about art with my wife at local coffee shop or flipping through Modern Architecture and Design magazines.

You hide media clippings in you work, how did this come about and how do you choose what to include?

 I believe that the hidden clippings give my work another dimension of interest for the viewer. The clippings are placed as design elements and are crafted with considerable importance. Like the places I paint, the mixed media elements help tell the story of what once was. The clippings are a modern link to the past. Some of the clippings include : heirloom postcards, handwritten notes from the past, vintage photographs, graphic stamps and script from vintage advertising catalogs.

There are no people in your work, yet your subject matter is all man-made. Why did you decide to not paint people?

In my work it is important to represent the footprint of humanity. It’s not necessary to paint figures into my landscapes.

Trek Out West © Jason Kowalski