Back in early 2019 in planning paintings for the 2020 show at InSight Gallery, I decided I wanted to paint a moonlit longhorn scene. I got inspired after seeing such a scene after a long day of reference gathering.
I waited for well lit nights to do some plein air color studies. As I designed the piece I realized the size needed to be substantial.
With my sketch on paper, I begin sketching on the gessoed board with paint. Diagonal lines in pencil make it easier to scale.
After the initial sketch is in place, I pay closer attention to anatomy. I continue to refine.
Now I begin to put a wash down. This will give a warm undertone.
Jumping forward I begin to refine in color. I continue this process until completion. Although the scene is serene, I wanted a shimmer and movement in the light. Western history and cattle lore often centered around the night watch. The stars are bright on this night, but the longhorns take center stage.
The West & The Wild
Brian Grimm & David Griffin
Reception May 1, 2020
A strong fall cold front arrived bringing an early freeze. Ideal weather for our whitetail, they appeared oblivious to the frigid temperatures. Our kids visited with their blue heelers and the deer made quick game of these two porch dogs. The does came to taunt each morning casually bounding over the fence when time arose. This went on each morning until a buck interrupted with more pressing issues.
The bucks made fast haste of the cold snap. The rattling of tines were heard most evenings echoing across the valley. It's the timeless, sweet music of nature that feeds the soul.
I'm reminded of what fuels me. The new windows overlooking our valley have made the studio a joy to work in and I'm eager to get painting with each sunrise. Much like the blue heelers, I have never been one to let go of a chase.
Art collecting has similar sensibilities. A collector may chase the piece that got away, the one that sold out from underneath them or engage in a marathon hunt for that perfect piece of art. That too is part of the sport of life and I'm told it is thoroughly enjoyable.
"Stickers & Stones" will be included in a two man show I'm having along with artist David Griffin, April 2020 at InSight Gallery. I'll select 6 - 10 paintings for the show.
I'll have more on the remodel, which has been a great journey, and what's on the easel. Stay tuned!
We made the move! I hope it is our last! We moved back to Fredericksburg and closed on our home last week. Some remodeling of studio space should give plenty of north light and room to work. I am eager. It may take longer on landscaping and living space, but our contractor is on the same page that the studio takes top priority.
Fortunately, I have found space to work until the studio is completed.
In the midst of the move, I was commissioned to paint a steer painting. I'm doubly honored as the couple is new to collecting western art.
"Trails that Lead to Water" 36" x 48"
I wanted to play with the light on the bluff with the blue tones of the shadows on the main longhorn. He could have been bathed in light, but I wanted to steer away from the obvious, (no pun intended). The painting is a large 36" x 48" and I wanted it to echo the rugged beauty of the west.
I hope to update soon with our move -in and finished studio!
"Rio Grande Casanovas" 24" x 36"
"Spanish Dagger" 24" x 40" Briscoe Western Art Museum Auction 2019
I aimed to muster up the best of the Texas brush in "Spanish Dagger". Each year the lure of the whitetail increases with each passing day as fall nears. Bucks can be monsters in the brush and this guy was a brute. It is all about the buck and the yucca, both of which are aptly nicknamed "Spanish Dagger".
In South Texas, seasonal colors vary from year to year depending on temperatures. I've been there when barely a sprig of green is evident and then other years, like the one in the painting, summer hugs winter allowing for extended growing season creating a thick yet airy lushness as rain allows.
"Spanish Dagger will be at the Briscoe Museum of Western Art, live auction March 29.
"Horns at Honey Creek" is reminiscent of scenes throughout Texas, however, this is set west of San Antonio. Love of family and land kept this second painting close to home. My grandparents arrived as children in Galveston, TX from Germany in the 1880s. They met, married and purchased 239 acres, not 10 miles from where I grew up in Central Texas. We all have stayed in Texas since.
Longhorns captured my imagination early on. Self-reliant, rugged and the mascot for the University of Texas in nearby Austin, longhorns dotted the landscapes of ranches throughout Texas and were accessible subjects for me to paint.
"Horns at Honey Creek" is in the Hill Country. I'm unsure if the creek got its name from the color or the taste, but I imagine it's probably a little of both. The dappled light of the shade play on the pattern of the longhorns. Summer is ending with cooler days on the way.
"Horns at Honey Creek" 24" x 32" Briscoe Western Art Museum, Night of Artists 2019
The nemesis of every artist is deadlines. Yet, thankfully we have them as it is really hard to call a painting completed. Art is not usually effortless, nor should it be. We are to dig deep and bring something thoughtful and moving to life. Lofty goals, but to succeed within a given timeframe is like catching lightning in a bottle. It's emotionally and physically draining but when everything comes together, and it does on occasion, well, there is nothing like it.
I try to get ahead of schedule; I'm getting better. I try to create a custom Christmas card to mail to collectors each year, but I was shocked that according to records the last one I created was in 2015! Are you kidding me? Time can get away from me and I couldn't let another year escape me.
Going through the past cards, I remember the events leading up to their creation. I have been told the same is true for collectors. They remember the art purchase from their favorite gallery or show, the trip they were on, the friends and family they were traveling with at the time. Gathering and adding to one's collection is very personal, in many ways recording memories of milestones and events.
This year has been an all-out love affair with the nature and woods that surround us. From the colors of spring to fall to the resident wildlife, everything seemed to put on a show for us. Two of our neighborhood foxes nap on the hillside behind our home and this is the inspiration behind the 2018 holiday card. The colder the day the tighter they curl into a ball and bask in the sunshine. They are so peaceful in their slumber that they barely lift their head when we walk outdoors. If we do interrupt them, they reluctantly stretch, give an extended yawn and then traipse no further than is required. While I yearn for a balance of easel, family, and the holidays, these critters exhibit pure peace. It is a lesson to relax, quiet the heart and enjoy.
May this season find you and yours with such peace and contentment!
Our whitetail bucks have chased the does relentlessly. We have a very confident non-typical buck that is a great looking up and comer. He will give the big guy a run for top status next year.
Neighborhood foxes are emblazoned in their finest coats, and all of our wildlife, coyotes to bobcats seem to be enjoying the cooler weather. It is my favorite time of the year.
With such seasonal abundance, I decided to paint a Rio Grande turkey. I admit a fondness for these birds. I think I have mentioned this before, but what characters! Their mannerisms range from fierce to comical and they always prove to be great subjects.
Hope this finds you as excited about the season as I am. Although I want to be gathering reference, today, the easel is calling and I have some things I want to accomplish. The larger painting I am working on is flowing nicely and I look forward to sharing. Stay tuned!
"Western Winds" 24" x 36"
Just doing their thing. That is strength. That is the feeling I had when watching these bison. Blustery weather arises. Grit can blow and wind can sweep, yet they carry on. I aimed to capture their genuine strength.
The internet and social media are hurdles. I'm only on Linkedin not because I'm not social; I don't do my best work when I see too much of the same content. I have also found a need to limit technology in the studio. I have internet, I stream music, but I limit browsing. I've heard it argued that artists from the past would have used the tools of modern technology if available. Maybe so, but would their art be better for it? Probably not.
Others have differing viewpoints, but this is what works for me. I'm not a technophobe, I just believe it can homogenize and sterilize, like synthesizers in music. The quirks of the human hand bring warmth and soul.
I really don't like talking much about it. The art should say it. Proof should be in the painting.
Looking forward! Gearing up for some Texas whitetail! Our bucks are the best yet. Almost all have rubbed off their velvet and are beginning to bulk up. Can't wait for the show!
I am finishing up several paintings. "Under American Skies" 36" x 48" is on the easel awaiting a frame. I'll do the finishing touches; something may catch my eye to change.
I had this picture of the landscape in my files for years, waiting for the right idea. I came across it recently and it clicked. The title needed to be fitting of the beauty of bison on the western prairie. I love the western expanse and wanted to do justice to its depth. I kept in mind the peacefulness of the prairie and the grazing bison and thought the silver-toned light would give an air of tranquility.
On the easel is a large whitetail for InSight Gallery. I love the feeling of stepping into the scene! I have spot-on reference. I've gathered a good amount of reference over the years and I'm making strides in getting more these days. Legwork is essential. Reference trips this fall should solidify a couple of ideas I have simmering.
"Afternoon Social" 18" x 24" InSight Gallery
I had this bobwhite quail painting in the works for some time. I toyed with the design, changed their positions, gestures, lighting, etc. until my vision was set. I thumbed through my reference to back up what I had in mind and found I lacked the exact "look" for the hens. Several restless nights were spent thinking about this painting.
I did not want to render. Their patterns are intricate yet I wanted the impression, the air, the light, the mood. Each bird needed their own gesture and personality. I wanted to be sure of hand. I had to do right by this painting. Time to put on the boots and get the proper reference!
Next morning at breakfast I noticed a cardinal landing in the backyard. In its flight path a small object moved. I thought perhaps a squirrel, but recognized a quail hen.
Here it was. I nearly knocked over everything to make way to the camera. I had no time to deal with condensation on the lens. This was incredible! We have 5 acres that are surrounded by larger tracts and in the 5 years of living here, I have never seen a quail, not on our place, not while driving. We have plenty of birds, whitetail, and critters, but the quail were elusive. This hen made her way into our fenced garden. She strutted about a bit, giving a myriad of supermodel worthy poses before she flew to the fence, hopped to the ground to make her way back to the edge of the woods.
"Thank you, God!" Truly an incredible gift and exactly when I needed it.
I also finished this Rio Grande Turkey painting. I had a blast with this painting. The two toms came out as hoped. That is especially true in their personalities. One is completely full of himself, the other seems more pensive. I picture some cocky, lanky dude belting out "What's up girls?". The sometimes humorous ritual of guys approaching ladies seemed to stick with me. The title, "Rio Grande Casanovas" said it all.
Summer months are usually busy in preparation for fall shows. This is especially true this year. Time to get to it. Back to the easel!
"Rio Grande Casanovas" 24" x 36" InSight Gallery
Painter of western wildlife and landscapes, constantly seeking to balance impressionism and realism sans trickery. Brian works as a full time artist in Central Texas. Exhibited at Rockwell Museum, Briscoe Museum, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and National Museum of Wildlife Art.