“Cubby Holes of Nature”


Artell was born in the small town of Sugar City, Idaho. His father was the Lead Maintenance painter/wall paperer/upholsterer for the Sun Valley Ski Resort. Living just one mile from the resort in Ketchum, the Big Wood River at the base of Baldy Mountain and the great-outdoors was his playground for the first ten years of his life. He and his friends knew every trail, cave and cliff. They knew where the Indians got their flint to make arrowheads and knives. They regularly watched herds of deer and elk grazing.


Times were tough. Artell’s family subsisted on deer, elk, salmon, trout, pheasant, sage hens and rice and potatoes. But he says he would not trade it for the world!


At the age of 10, his family moved to Burley, Idaho where he became a boy scout. “It was right up my alley,” states Artell. Shortly thereafter, he became an Eagle Scout-always hiking, camping, fishing or hunting-enjoying the outdoors and it’s scenery.


In the middle of his high school studies, Artell moved with his family to Palm Springs, California. He learned to love the desert with its variety of colors and plant life. Artell has acknowledged many times to friends and family, “I discovered that the desert has a beauty all its own.” He learned quickly that no matter where you live, there is beauty in all of nature.


After graduating from high school, he moved back to Idaho where he was again hunting, fishing and skiing in the winter. Artell remembers that he joined the ski patrol for a while. “I was in my element again; the forests and rivers (including Yellowstone National Park).”


Following his marriage, he moved his family to Southern California to begin a lifetime career as a General Contractor. He and a construction buddy decided to take a community art class just for fun. Artell affirms, “I always seemed to be able to draw anything that I could see, always being able to see size, color and/or depth.” We purchased all the supplies necessary for the class: oil paint, brushes and canvases. Living close to a retirement community, they arrived for the first class only to find the teacher was 85 years old and the 38 other students were women over the age of 65. He laughs when he recalls, “We never got the chance to even meet the teacher! But we did finish the class.”


Still having all the supplies necessary, he began to paint on his own. Over the years Mr. Harris took classes from artists whom he admired for their styles, mostly oil paints and some water colors. One of the artists was Kolan Peterson who became a good friend and mentor. Harris states, “I chose to stay with oil paints mainly because I like detail in my paintings.”


“My artwork has been an escape for me,” he affirms. Artell’s primary vocation was as a General Contractor. His studios have always been in his home, usually his office. That’s where with sketches, notes, photos and memories come together with adding, deleting and color changes he went to work! His primary subject matter has always come from fishing, hiking, vacations or just weekend getaways. He paints what he calls, the little “Cubby Holes of Nature.” A majority of my artwork is of local scenery from Utah, Idaho and Oregon. Artell is emphatic when he says, “The beauties of nature have always been my inspiration and challenge to capture a moment in time.”


As a General Contractor a great amount of time in planning and forethought was required for each project. He says that those attributes have carried over into his art work as well.  He spends a significant amount of time planning the artistic aspects of each painting. Artell starts with the size of canvas which will best showcase his subject matter. Next, determination of the correct color values/direction of the lighting/and placement of the scene maximizing points of interest come into play.


Staying clear of painting the spectacular, familiar scenes such as “Old Faithful” in Yellowstone or the “Delicate Arch” in Arches National Park. The greatest number of his paintings are of places that most people would just walk past-missing the beauty of the area. That is why, many years ago, he coined the phrase, “Cubby Holes of Nature.” Artell says of the subjects he chooses, “I guess you could say that I like to stop and smell the roses along the way.”


Artell fine-tunes his clouds to look like they are soft and billowing and his water to look wet with depth and clarity. He has had numerous people (and other artists) study the techniques he uses to make water look wet. Many have xclaimed that they felt they could reach clear to the bottom of a painting into his water scenes. They also question him on how he can make his water look so real and wet.


When he first began painting, he created a winter scene which was entered into a show at a local bank. Not knowing the price he should assign his work, he found that it was twice as much as most of the other entries in the show.  The other artists were shocked, and told him it would never sell. Then they upped their prices to match his. Artell’s painting was chosen “Best in Show,” and placed on a tripod at the entrance of the bank that day. It was purchased by the first customer to walk in the door.

After entering many state fairs in Idaho and Utah, and winning blue ribbons, numerous artists encouraged him to put his works in the art galleries of Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and California. Most recently, his artwork has been showcased in Rive Gauche Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. Artell has been involved in various one-man shows, most recently The Covey Center for the Arts in Provo Utah, and The Springville Art Museum in Springville, Utah. Several of his works have appeared in “The Western Art Collector” and “The American Art Collector” magazines.


Artell and his first wife had seven children, all of whom are on their own now. After she passed away in 1999, he remarried in 2002. He says she is just as passionate about his art work as he is. “It is because of her that I have become more aggressive in pursuing my art as a business,” he acknowledges. Mr. and Mrs. Harris built a beautiful home in Mapleton, Utah where they now live. All together, they have 10 children, 48 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.


Artell is passionate when he says, “If you ever had an idea that you wanted to paint or any other passion, Go For It! Even if it’s only for the relaxation and the quiet times.” 








Artist’s Statement 


    Whenever I begin a new oil painting, I know what it will look like before I start. I wasted a lot of film before the advent of digital cameras. Now, I just keep the pictures I have taken that have possibilities and delete the rest. I take a myriad of photographs while hiking. Some of the photos I like for the whole composition, while others just for a tree or a rock. I determine if anything in the picture could be a focal point or if the entire scene is the point of interest. To me one of the most important elements in my artwork is getting the true colors of nature. I may even create a scene from several photographs I have taken on a particular day; sometimes including a sky or foreground that comes from older photos. 

    It is of upmost importance for me to produce art that looks as though the observer is standing right in front of nature. It is my goal to allow the viewer to stop, take a deep breath and relax…then say “I’d like to be there,” feeling as though they could step into the painting. I am looking for the “Cubby Holes of Nature” that invites one to reach down and feel the wetness of the water I have created with my brush. 




Artell's Resume



    Artell began drawing at a young age. He tried his hand at pencil sketches and watercolor,  then discovered that his favorite medium was oil on canvas. Artell’s love of the outdoors became apparent through his artwork. His talent has been honed through self-directed study and experience.  Landscape artists such as Michael Coleman, John F. Carlson, Robert Wood, Kolan Peterson, and Valoy Eaton have inspired his work through the years.



    Artell works exclusively in oils. Because of his vast knowledge of the outdoors, Artell’s palette showcases nature’s majesty and rich colors. Among his favorite scenes to paint are “Cubby Holes of Nature” as he calls them, showcasing rivers, lakes and streams. With each painting, he utilizes light and shadow working together to force a beautiful contrast.



Western Art Collector

American Art Collector

Utah County Artists Sourcebook

Xanadu Art Catalog


Gallery and Museum Exhibitions:

Western Skies Fine Art Gallery, Afton, WY

Rive Gauche Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ

Jackson Hole and Casper, WY

Idaho Falls and Rexburg, ID

Palm Springs, Los Olivos and Camarillo, CA

Coleman Gallery, Freedom Gallery, and Covey Center for the Arts, Provo, UT

Springville Art Museum, Springville, UT

Scera Art Gallery, Orem, UT

Other Utah Galleries: Farmington, Bountiful and Fruit Heights, American Fork

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