Matthew Higginbotham was born in Colorado Springs, CO. in 1963. His early beginnings with art took place in a pottery studio in 1974 at the age of 11 at Tulsa’s Philbrook Art Institute. This weekend class his mother enrolled him in opened up something deeper that would one day lead to a career in the arts, first on the kick wheel and eventually on canvas. From 1991-1995, Higginbotham owned Northwest Pottery and Fine Arts based in Spokane, Washington, selling both functional pottery and fine are ceramics. Galleries such as Sasak in the Seattle Design Center, Seattle’s Southwest Collections, and others throughout the state marketed and sold his work. Then in early 1995 a creative transformation occurred that led to painting. He discovered a new way to communicate his creative vision in the immediacy of painting on canvas that he felt was absent in painting glazes on pottery. This change was profound. In a matter of weeks, he decided to sell most of his pottery equipment and devote himself entirely to painting.
At first, Higginbotham painted a series of Southwest churches and pueblos, which led to a solo show in May of 1995 at the Metro Mall Gallery in Spokane, WA and later, in November, at Bedford Gallery in Colorado Springs, CO. But it wasn’t until he moved to northern New Mexico in late 1995 that he began to mature as a painter and eventually started painting full-time.
Higginbotham moved to Chimayo, NM in December of 1995 and continued his series of churches, one of which was his first large commission of the famous Santuario de Chimayo. At the same time, he also ran Casa Escondida Bed & Breakfast, sold his paintings and postcards to guests, and was represented in the local Chimayo & Mercantile Gallery.
In time, Higginbotham began to focus on landscapes as his subject of choice. As he writes, “In the early years of painting I experimented with many subjects and eventually landscapes became my primary focus. It just seemed natural for me to want to study the nuances of what I was seeing in the fields and skies, and the more I painted them, the more I began to understand how they made my feel. When I found the colors that worked the best for me and could paint better, a whole new world opened up. I could really get into a landscape and start seeing the many wonderful opposites- darkness and light, peace and chaos, subtlety and directness, intensity and muteness. Finally, I could begin to really start expressing my emotions on canvas.”
Matthew has lived in Santa Fe, NM since 2002.
PAINTING landscapes is like taking a moment in time and creating a story that encompasses drama and feeling and nuance. I want what I witness in the land to live on as palpable experiences of place. Color, composition, and technique are only means to bring others into the story that I want to be powerful, vibrating, and alive. And it’s not about thinking, but just feeling it-that deeper experience beyond words, what I felt when I first saw these scenes. A moment that is timeless.