Growing up on a small farm in Highland, Utah, Michael R. Workman (BFA ’86, MFA ’92) knew just what he wanted to do with his life: “Move to a rural area and paint the land. And I’ve been able to do exactly that.” Workman credits his BYU professors not only for teaching him the elements of art but for helping him believe he could make a living with his brush, which he does from his home in Spring City, Utah.
“I approach landscapes with a poetic sensibility,” says Workman, who paints in the early-morning or late-evening light. “I’m trying to subtly communicate the spiritual qualities of the land.” Citing artists as eclectic as Rothko and Van Gogh as influences, Workman feels a special kinship with the tonalist painter George Inness, who felt the world was a profoundly spiritual place. “I never set out to be a tonalist, but that is what I seem to be,” he says. His treatment of landscapes shows a reverence for the places and subjects he depicts: “I hope my faith and belief in something beyond this life come through.”