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!
"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
"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!
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!
It all went well. I was satisfied where these pronghorn were leading me. At the design stage, I was toying with the idea of placing this solidly in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. I decided to save that for another painting. The mood fixed itself straight away. No sense cluttering the message.
Behind the bison, perhaps no animal quite represents the lore of the West like the pronghorn. A true American original, this amazing creature became a favorite subject matter of mine early on. This painting will be @ InSight Gallery for their Fall Show, September 1st.www.insightgallery.com/searchresults.php?artistId=5646&artist=Brian%20Grimm&start=1
This is day two but reflects days of reference gathering, pléin air painting, research, and designing. The sketch may appear fairly vague. I'm working out some of the finer details on the board.
I resisted from going too far on this sketch. This can be a tricky decision, at least for me it can be. If I'm too eager, I could miss a crucial aspect, revealing a flaw in the end, wasting days if not the painting entirely. But, if I go too in depth, churning endlessly on a design, the painting can have a calculated and non-atmospheric edge. This is just as unsuccessful. Here's the sketch...
I've taken thousands of pronghorn photographs in the field and have great reference. The numbers you see indicate my photo files. I tweaked gestures, eliminating some and checking those I'll use. I have a thorough understanding of the mood I want the painting to convey, atmosphere, palette. I am leaving room for happy discoveries, nuances that happen when you quit thinking. I use a similar process in each painting. I tend to continue to sketch and design until I fully grasp in my head what the painting will look like. I'll update once completed. Thanks, for reading!
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.