West Fraser: Biography

West Fraser was born in Savannah, GA in 1955. He is a true “Son of The Low Country”, with deep roots dating back to 1695 in Dorchester SC, to coastal Georgia’s colonial plantation history. He came of age on Hilton Head Island where he developed his love of the coastal environs that still today provides inspiration. One of the leading American artists in the representational and plein air tradition, he has built his career on richly painted, atmospheric vistas of cities, coasts, and the landscape throughout the United States and internationally—from the pristine Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, to the hill towns of Tuscany. An inveterate traveler, he has painted throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Europe and Scandinavia. Yet his passion always draws him back to the marshes and landscape of his beloved Georgia and South Carolina Coast.

Mr. Fraser is a past Commissioner of the South Carolina Art’s Commission, an elected member of the prestigious Salmagundi Club,  a Signature member of PAPA (Plein Air Painters of America) and an artist member of the California Art Club. He garnered his first award in 1984, The John Young Hunter Award from Allied Artists of America in NYC. Since then he has been honored with the Award of Excellence from Mystic International, The Mary S. Litt Award from The American Watercolor Society, the Pursuit of Excellence/American Master award from the Hubbard Museum of Art, NM & recently the Edgar Payne Gold Medal from the CA Art Club’s 100th Gold Medal Exhibition, CA. Fraser’s work hangs in permanent collections of 9 museums across the United States and Bermuda and is in the permanent collection at The White House Historical Association.

West Fraser has been honored with 9 solo museum exhibitions in the Midwest, the Southeast, and California. His most recent museum exhibition was at the Gibbes Museum, Charleston, S.C., in 2017, ‘Painting the Southern Coast: The Art of West Fraser’ which is loosely based on the 2016 book of the same name. His paintings have also been included in many jurried museum exhibitions nationwide. During the past 35 years, Fraser has been published extensively, including extensive features in Art and Antique, Plein Air Magazine, The Robb Report, Charleston Magazine, Sandlapper Magazine, SC Wildlife Magazine, Southern Living, Southern Accents, American Artist, Nautical Quarterly, Southwest Art, US Air Ways and American Art Collector to name a few. As well, exhibition catalogs and books exists of his work The Color of Light, 1995 Springfield Museum of Art, OH and A Native Son, 2012 Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA. In 2000, he represented South Carolina in the bicentennial celebration calendar published by the White House Historic Association. In 2001, the University of South Carolina Press published the monograph ‘Charleston in My Time: The Paintings of West Fraser’, which was accompanied by a traveling exhibition to Southeastern museums, and in 2016 they published ‘Painting the Southern Coast: The Art of West Fraser,’ which was followed with a solo exhibit at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston. In 2006, Fraser painted the official portrait of SC Governor Mark Sanford. Mr. Fraser currently lives in Mt. Pleasant, SC with his wife Helena Fox.

“…West Fraser paints with light—the radiance of early morning, the glare of high noon, the glow of day’s end and the mystery of moonlight—to create brilliant works of color and form. He takes what we see everyday, something that seems ordinary, and makes it worthy of fine art.”