ST. GEORGE — Sometimes getting caught red-handed isn’t a bad thing.

Matt Pectol holds one of his sketches at his studio inside MakeSpace Kayenta, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 25, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

Artist Matt Pectol specializes in oil painting and finds inspiration from the landscapes of Southern Utah and beyond. From slot canyons framing crystal rivers to spiraling tree trunks against a blue desert sky, he’s brushing out one vibrant scene after another.

“I don’t even know where ideas come from sometimes,” Pectol said. “But being able to paint it on canvas and show other people, and then watching other people at shows turn the corner and see your painting and be like, ‘Wow,’ — it’s just really rewarding and really fun to share it with other people.”

Growing up, Pectol said he never dreamed of becoming a fireman, a football player or anything else. The only thing he ever wanted to be was an artist. In school, his struggle with dyslexia drew him into the art scene even more. He began with pastels in high school, then transitioned into oil painting — his passion. He’s thankful to one teacher he will never forget who encouraged him to pursue art.

After trying college at Utah Tech University and Rocky Mountain School of Art and Design in Denver, he decided college wasn’t for him and went on to improve his artistic skills on his own. At the age of 20, he had his first solo art show at The Bean Scene, a local coffee shop where he loved to sit and sketch. He sold his first painting at the show and has been professionally selling his paintings ever since.

Matt Pectol stands next to one of his paintings inside the Juniper Sky Gallery at the Kayenta Art Village in Ivins, Utah, Oct. 25, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

After starting a family, he put his art on the back burner and worked retail for 10 years. The industry made him so miserable that he decided to take a step back. He began painting during the day and stocking shelves at night.

“I did that for about five years and built my career up slowly,” he said. “Now I’m full-time as an artist. So it was a big risk, but it’s paid off. I’m so much happier.”

Pectol said he numbers each painting he intends to sell. He’s currently working on painting number 86. He’s sold most of the paintings he’s painted and also has a stack of “failures” in his garage.

Each of Pectol’s paintings starts with a sketch. After working out the movement and composition, he turns the sketch into a detailed charcoal drawing on his paint surface. He then seals the charcoal and then paints over it.

He said he’s inspired by the postmodern impressionist era. He loves Paul Gauguin’s color choices and abstract shapes, the movement of Monet’s paintings and the emotional art of Vincent Van Gogh. He’s also been inspired by local artists such as Royden Card and Erin Hanson.

Matt Pectol works on a painting at MakeSpace Kayenta in Ivins, Utah, Oct. 25, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

“My favorite thing is creating,” he said. “There’s something about just having the painting itself after. I feel like it’s going to last for hundreds of years and it’s going to be what I leave behind.” 

Find artwork by Matt Pectol at the Juniper Sky Gallery in Kayenta. See his exhibit at the upcoming Arts to Zion showcase “A World Full of Color,” which will run from November through January. Take an art class by Pectol at MakeSpace Kayenta.

Follow @mattpectol on Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date. Reach him directly at 435-669-3005 or email

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A painting by Matt Pectol is inspired by the Southern Utah landscape | Photo courtesy of Matt Pectol, St. George News

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