Taos artist Don Brackett is a third-generation New Mexican who has spent a lifetime painting the quiet, timeless villages and harsh, monumental landscapes of the sparsely populated state.
An Albuquerque native, Brackett's artistry was evident when he started drawing as early as age five. There were no artists in his family to model the artist's journey, so he forged his own path by studying art in high school and college, particularly life drawing and watercolor. He served with the U.S. Marines for three years in the Korean campaign, discovering a lifelong love of Hawaii while stationed there.
Brackett attended the University of New Mexico as a fine arts major and studied under painter Kenneth Adams, an associate of Taos Founders Andrew Dasburg and Walter Ufer, and the last member elected to the Taos Society of Artists – which put the art colony on the map around the turn of the 19th century.
Brackett initially painted in watercolors, receiving awards including the National Academy's distinguished Ford Times Award and Best of Show from the New Mexico Watercolor Society, where he met his wife, artist PJ Garoutte. He has been a longtime member of the American Watercolor Society.
In 1980, Brackett switched to oils, seduced by their juicy, textural quality. He became a member of the Society of American Impressionists and in 1992 won first place and $10,000 cash in the Best of the Sangres show in Pueblo, Colorado.
Brackett and Garoutte moved to Taos from Albuquerque in 1988 and have enjoyed a rare 35-year marriage and artistic partnership, influencing and challenging each others work. For years, he and Garoutte painted on site in New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri and California in their van that allowed them to work while sheltered by he weather.
Brackett told Taos Magazine in 1999 that Garoutte has expanded his horizons with respect to color.
"When we began painting together he painted in blue and brown a lot. And he wore those colors too," said Garoutte.
Brackett admitted, "Its true. Blue jeans and a brown shirt. I was timid of color."
The couple painted in France, Italy, Mexico and Hawaii. For a year and a half they lived in a seaside cottage in Hawaii, Brackett started missing the Taos Mountains. Brackett credits the time in Hawaii with encouraging him to take more risks with composition and approach his work with a looser brush and sense of fun. He fully exploits the possibilities of oils, which he marries with Impressionism in rich, sometimes daringly thick brushstrokes.