John Burton: Mormon Artist
John Burton is an award-winning oil painter who has painted around the globe to capture the landscapes of the world. He has also been the keynote speaker at plein air conventions. He has been featured in several magazines, including Art of the West, Southwest Art Magazine, American Art Collector, and International Artist Magazine.
Burton is the creative force behind the 2017 exhibit at the LDS Church History Museum that features contemporary glimpses of landscapes found along the Mormon Trail. He enlisted the help of fellow artists Bryan Mark Taylor and Josh Clare and they traveled along the Mormon Trail from 2011 to 2016 to paint the historical sites along the 1,300-mile route that the Mormon pioneers traveled between 1846 and 1868. Journal excerpts from the pioneers were paired with the 52 paintings for the exhibit. A book, Saints at Devil’s Gate: Landscapes along the Mormon Trail, has been published to accompany the exhibit. Burton felt spiritually prompted to do a show about the Mormon pioneers. Although he is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he has pioneer heritage on both sides of his family.
According to an article in the Deseret News, as the artists learned more about the pioneers, they “discovered that Taylor's ancestors were part of the Martin Handcart Company and that Clare and Burton's ancestors were part of the rescue.”
The three artists took five years of unpaid time to paint sites along the trail. Using the plain air style, they went on location, did studies, and then finished the paintings in the studio. He noted:
- The pioneers did not take the scenic route; the pioneers took the flat route, the easiest route with water and wood, so it was a difficult challenge to try to paint a lot of these scenes and get the beauty and design of it when it isn’t given to you as an artist very easily. I think we were, in the end, successful with that.