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
The two toms are attempting to entice the hens. The one tom is almost in full strut and is anchored along with the other tom by the yucca in the background.
My goal was to paint a strutting tom without the "Thanksgiving" look. I really wanted to have the tall yucca but not have it overpower the birds. I went through a myriad of designs. By trial and error, I found that anchoring the strutting tom with the yucca negated each from becoming too much a focal point. The tom with his head high demands attention, creating a natural eye flow. That's the idea. It will head to InSight Gallery in Fredericksburg on completion.
Sharing my attention is a grizzly painting for Legacy Gallery, Jackson Hole. It's cooking so to speak. It's coming along as hoped and planned. I've made a real effort to get back to creating natural and honest paintings. You go out and learn all the tricks only to strip it back down and go acoustic. I think this is true in most of life. Plan to post it soon. Stay tuned!
I'm back in the studio and at it. I've lived with a sketch I just have to paint!
I'll post some pics soon, but I have several upcoming reference trips. I can never have enough reference. Back in 1990's when I began my art career in earnest, I used a 35mm film camera. I couldn't afford a long telephoto lens, but I made do. I mark those print photos among my most treasured possessions!
Texas Masters Show at InSight Gallery, March 2, 2018
"La Gran Sombra" (The Big Shadow) 22" x 28" oil/board InSight Gallery - Texas Masters Show
This painting is of a South Texas whitetail from a friend's ranch near Cotulla, TX. Two items set this painting into motion, the whitetail buck and the large acacia tree, (Huisache) he is emerging from behind.
The largest of these bucks instinctively hug the shadows of very early morning or late day, when the shadows become great. The thick expanse of brush south of San Antonio offer ample cover.
I really enjoy the raw beauty of the Brush Country. There is a peace that comes over me sitting in the stand and yet when an animal emerges my heart races with excitement. The camera captures the details and my paint records in sketch, the energy and emotion of the moment.
I can't tell you how many times I revised the drawing for this buck. I took it to different easels, different rooms, in the frame and without. After a break, I'd go back to wipe him clean and begin again. I was determined not to begin painting until I was fully satisfied.
One slight shift of the leg and he was too tense. After much tweaking, I was ready to paint!
"Ridgetop Morning" 9" x 12 oil/board
Just crated these for Settlers West American Miniatures Show. The Mule deer is from a recent research trip. Light is an important factor in my paintings. On this one, my aim was the morning light. I had followed this buck and sensed he was getting impatient with his quest for the does. It made sense he was going to crest this hill. The lighting was great, my model was superb and I was in position. The does meandered down the hill and out of view, but their addition to the scene was crucial to the painting.
"Jumping Jack" 9" x 12" oil/board
I am a fan of these fierce little rascals. They are able to thrive in the most inhospitable of areas of the American Southwest. Although correct to my reference, (I measured multiple times!) I decided this hare's ears were not long enough to convey the iconic jackrabbit look so I lengthened them.
I have several larger paintings in progress, so I set this up in a corner of the studio. I am simply working nuances at this point and picking at things that later would irritate only me.
As it turned out, there is a subtlety that I get a kick out of. I left it. There was an energy in my paint stroke when I laid in the paint between the rabbit's ears. I'm not one to get overly analytical but these light "squiggles" that happened by pure chance, delight me. The spontaneous energy, like an old tv's rabbit ear antennae seemed absolutely appropriate for the painting. I thank God when these happy gifts happen.
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.