Don Sahli is an extraordinary American painter whose artistic talent was recognized early in his life and nurtured by the legendary Russian master, Sergei Bongart. Bongart, one of the foremost Russian colorists studied at the Academy of Art in Kiev under Peter Kotov who was taught by the famed Nicolai Fechin. Fleeing Stalin’s regime, Bongart came to the United States and became one of the most renowned art instructors of the Russian method in this country. While many artists of today studied with Bongart, only a few were invited to be his apprentice. A year after Sahli began his formal art education at the University of Texas in Austin, his talent was recognized by Bongart who invited him to study with him at the prestigious Bongart School of Art in Los Angeles. Sahli then became Bongart’s last apprentice for three years before his death in 1985.
Having painted professionally since the age of 17, Sahli decided to carry on Bongart’s legacy by establishing the Sahli School of Art. Continuing in the teaching tradition of the Russian School of Painting, Sahli has mentored and taught more than 500 students. As a master artist, Sahli is best known for his vibrant and colorful American landscapes and still life which resonate with echoes of the Russian Impressionists as evidenced by his enlivened brushstrokes and uninhibited use of brilliant color.
As a plein air painter, Sahli explains that “outdoors things change quickly; the outside world is in constant motion-the Divine at work. Quickly the scene will change as it did when painting this work in Crested Butte when I experienced fall one day and winter the next-within 24 hours. To capture the “snow on the aspen” was a wonderful experience for me.”