John Frost was the son of renowned illustrator, Arthur B. Frost, who from an early age introduced his son to painting and eventually encouraged him to pursue his talents at the Academie Julian when the family moved to Paris. During this time, Frost was introduced to Impressionist artist Richard Edward Miller and often visited the painter in Giverny. "By 1900, Impressionism, or what may be more properly termed 'Impressionistic Realism,' was the style of choice among American painters. The significicant contributions of French Impressionism to American art were in the use of color and the specialized brushwork. Americans, in general, did not dissolve forms, a common practice with Monet and his followers. The penchant for realistic observation of scenes, long a staple of American painting, survived the Impressionist onslaught. Scientific theories of color, such as [Michel] Chevreul's, were indeed well received by Americans, even by those who did not consider themselves Impressionists, and the outcome showed in paintings with brilliant and convincing effects of natural light. The loose, choppy brushtroke that characterizes an Impressionist work was both the consequence of the quick manner of paint application and the desire to produce a brilliant surface covered with a multitude of small daubs of bright color." (J. Stern, "Landscape of Light: Impressionism in California," Impressions of California: Early Currents in Art 1850-1930, Irvine, California, 1996, p. 37)
Up from the Arroyo is a masterpiece of the Impressionist style for which Frost would become best known. In this work, Frost has faithfully incorporated every hallmark of the style he had learned under Miller in Giverny and witnessed in exhibitions in New York and Chicago. Up from the Arroyo is rendered with these elements Frost learned but is further distinguished from the rest of the body of the artist's work in both its dramatic scale and high-keyed palette. The entire composition is painted in vivid color with dense Impressionist strokes that capture the dancing play of light on the wagon cart and the surrounding landscape. The sun filtering through the backlit leaves and softly diffused on the hills create an overall sense of light and pattern that contrast against the dazzling jewel-like colors in the foreground. Frost is able to combine strong draftsmanship, lively color and bold design to create a picture that captures an Impressionist tendency with Post-Impressionist devotion to surface texture and palette.