I'm nostalgic. Flat-out nostalgic. I enjoy steam engine locomotives, old classic cars, and chicken dinner at Ma Grimm's house on Sundays. I really miss those Sundays. That translates to my paintings. My wife recently told me I had a reoccurring theme in my paintings of an animal looking back. I never looked at it that way, but I guess it could be true.
When I'm designing a painting, I think as if I'm one of the subjects. Animals interact in all different and sometimes hilarious manners. They are curious. After a long dry spell, our whitetail will frolic in a puddle just to splash or chase each other as if they were playing tag. They often look back. Some look for familiar changes due to poor eyesight, among other reasons. As I'm at the drawing board, I question what the animal I'm about to paint hears, thinks, and feels. At times on the prowl, or overtaken by hormones and age-old impulses, or sometimes simply grazing.
This brings me back to, well, looking forward. I have opportunities to revisit wildlife that I've not painted recently and explore new ones. As nostalgic as I may be, I am thoroughly fired up about what's ahead. It is now. Like classic cars, traditional, wildlife art is timeless. Not much time to look back these days. Let's look forward!
I'm deeply grateful to the good folks at Texas Outdoors Journal for honoring my painting, "Points of Interest" with their October cover. This publication is THE resource for outdoors Texas and can be found on newsstands across the state. TOJ Outdoor News Show is celebrating their 29th year on the radio.
For more information: TOJ
I live with a painting before it's sent off, the longer the better. I turn it away from view to later return to it, flip it upside down, study, review, only to live with it a week or two more. The last review before delivery usually loops through a process of me pondering a myriad of what-ifs.
I intensely study ways to unjumble thoughts and impulses. Simply saying what one wants to say is a baffling pursuit. With paint, it can be a rabbit hole.
Early last summer we noticed a particular fawn. Short-legged, a little gawky, she seemed to prefer us to her peers. If we sat on the porch to enjoy the evening, "Lil Bit", as my wife named her, came to visit. Her mother's grunts were useless as "Lil Bit" scampered up unabashedly. With no other deer in-sight, she disregarded chainsaw activity, and burning brush to graze alongside us during chores.
When we took to a hotel during our February ice storm, we left a supplement of corn nearby for the wildlife. Two does and a variety of birds were lost, but Lil Bit appeared unscathed.
If this little doe has anything, she has moxie. Although she is becoming more doe-like and visits less frequently, her trailblazing style is infectious.
"Heads Up" could well be the theme for 2020. Much maligned, the year will go down in the history books as a heck of a tough year to get through. However, when things go awry, opportunities are born! I won't sit and cry in my oatmeal, it's time for work and as my wife says, "At least we don't have a skunk in the attic". Well said.
These thoughts stem from a commission destroyed in freight shipping. Other artists told me it would happen eventually. Yep, Murphy's law caught up to me. I had to adjust plans, create a painting to surpass the original, order a new frame, and negotiate reimbursement for the original with the shipper. I'm one to believe that no experience is without a reason and I'm stubborn enough to not allow this experience to eat at me.
Let's keep our heads up, get out there and get after it! In response to the change of schedule I painted "Heads Up" for The Museum of Western Art, Round Up Show and Sale. Always wary this buck has raised his head from a quick graze. I hope it is a scene many can relate to!
The 37th Annual Roundup at The Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, TX will be held Sept 26 -Oct 31.
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
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.